Ev incentive policies should target reducing gasoline use

Date01 February 2022
by Matthew Metz and Janelle London
Matthew Metz and Janelle London are Co-Executive Directors at Coltura, a nonprof‌it
working to accelerate the switch from gasoline and diesel to cleaner alternatives.
The United States uses more gasoline than any other
nation.¹ Gasoline is the source of 17% of U.S. car-
bon emissions.² To achieve emissions reductions
consistent with the 2030 goals set by the Joseph Biden
Admin istrat ion³ and the Intergovernmental Panel on Cli-
mate Change (IPCC), annual U.S. gasoline use by light-
duty vehicles will need to decline by 67%, or 96 billion
gallons, in the next eight years.
Electric vehicles (EVs) cause much lower carbon and
particulate emissions than gasoline-burning interna l com-
bustion engine vehicle s, while providing c omparable (and
often superior) performance and mobility. EVs emit about
three times less carbon than equivalent gas-powered cars
1. U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Frequently Asked Questions
(FAQS): What Countries Are the Top Producers and Consumers of Oil?, https://
www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=709&t=6 (last updated Dec. 8, 2021).
2. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse
Gas Emissions and Sinks, https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/inventory-us-
greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-sinks (last updated Oct. 26, 2021).
3. Fact Sheet, e White House, President Biden Sets 2030 Greenhouse
Gas Pollution Reduction Target Aimed at Creating Good-Paying Union
Jobs and Securing U.S. Leadership on Clean Energy Technologies (Apr.
22, 2021), https://www.whitehouse.gov/brieng-room/statements-releas-
4. e IPCC warned in 2018 that global emissions must drop 45% from
a 2010 baseline by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
IPCC, Headline Statements, https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/resources/headline-
statements/ (last visited Dec. 17, 2021).
5. is calculation takes into account upstream emissions from gasoline and
electricity production. It does not include electric vehicle (EV) manufactur-
ing emissions for two principal reasons. First, battery technology, manufac-
turing, and recycling processes are changing quickly, and it is not possible to
predict with condence the material composition of batteries and the ener-
gy requirements of battery manufacturing in 2030. Estimates of the carbon
intensity of existing EV battery manufacturing vary enormously. See, e.g.,
I C  C T, E  B-
 M  E V L-C G
G E (2018), https://theicct.org/sites/default/les/publications/
EV-life-cycle-GHG_ICCT-Brieng_09022018_vF.pdf. Second, reliable
data is not available for calculating vehicle manufacturing emissions from
the IPCC and Biden baseline years of 2010 and 2005.
6. See, e.g., U  C S, E V A
C T G— G B (2020), https://www.
ucsusa.org/sites/default/les/2020-05/evs-cleaner-than-gasoline.pdf; U.S.
Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center, Emissions From Hy-
brid and Plug-In Electric Vehicles, https://afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/electric_
emissions.html (last visited Dec. 17, 2021); Dave Vanderwerp, How EVs
Compare to Gas-Powered Vehicles in Seven Performance Metrics, C  D-
in areas of the country where electricity is produced with
natural gas, a nd run virtually carbon-free in area s where
renewable or nuclear energy is dominant. Even in regions
that depend heavily on coal for electricity generation, EVs
still have lower emissions than gas-powered cars.
e U.S. EV market, while growing rapidly, is not on
a trajectory to achieve the 96-billion-gallon cut in annual
gasoline use required to meet 2030 targets. EVs are a cen-
terpiece of federal and state strategies to reduce emissions
from light-duty vehicles burning gasoline.¹ e federal
government presently oers a at tax credit of $7,500 to
the buyers of certain EVs,¹¹ and the recently passed bipar-
tisan infrastructure bill wi ll dedicate $7.5 billion to EV
charg ing-site construction.¹² irteen state governments
oer EV incentives to encourage their residents to pur-
chase EVs.¹³
While the at-rate incentives have been eective in help-
ing EV models achieve a foothold in the market, they have
been relatively ineective in reducing gasoline consump-
tion and resulting vehicle emissions. is is because early
adopters of EVs tend to drive less than average drivers,¹
and the biggest consumers of gasoline have been slow to
ad opt E Vs.¹ As a result, the ga soline reduction achieved by
those switching to EVs has been disproportionately low in
relation to their share of the U.S. light-duty vehicle eet.
As the urgency to cut carbon emissions grows, the need to
maximize the gasoline reduction from each additional EV
 (May 15, 2021), https://www.caranddriver.com/features/g36420161/
7. Vanderwerp, supra note 6.
8. U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center, supra note 6.
9. See M M  ., C, G S 4-5 (2021),
10. See Fact Sheet, e White House, supra note 3.
12. Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Pub. L. No. 117-58, §11401, 135
Stat. 546 (2021).
13. Plug in America, State & Federal Incentives, https://pluginamerica.org/why-
go-plug-in/state-federal-incentives/ (last visited Dec. 17, 2021).
14. People Are Driving Electric Vehicles Less an Projected, U.C. D (Feb. 8,
2021), https://www.ucdavis.edu/climate/news/people-are-driving-electric-
15. M  ., supra note 9.
Copyright © 2022 Environmental Law Institute®, Washington, DC. Reprinted with permission from ELR®, http://www.eli.org, 1-800-433-5120.

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