A curious story ran in USA Today last week. Here is the headline and the lead:
Plug-in cars could actually increase air pollution
By James R. Healey, USA TODAY
The expected introduction of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles could cut U.S. gasoline use but could increase deadly air pollution in some areas, two reports say.
In the the story, he quotes a previously published NRDC report, specifically this quote:
"If large numbers of plug-in hybrids were being recharged with power from the least-sophisticated coal plants, "There is a possibility for significant increases of soot and mercury," says a report by environmental advocacy group Natural Resources Defense Council. Soot particles can make it hard to breathe, especially for asthmatics. Mercury is toxic. "
But was the NRCD report a negative report?
Here is the NRDC's response to the story.
As someone who has been enthusiastically watching and promoting plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, I was concerned that the headline of an article in USA Today (“Plug-in cars could actually increase air pollution,” Feb. 26) could lead to misperceptions about the environmental benefits of plug-in hybrid vehicles. The fact is that plug-ins are an important opportunity for reducing pollution.
According to John O'Dell for Edmunds.com:
"Chelsea Sexton, executive director of Plug In America, an advocacy group for PHEVs, has deeper concerns, though, maintaining that the story "borders on the irresponsible, ignoring the full picture and cherry-picking negative facts from different studies in order to prove a point that doesn't exist."
The Electric Power Research Institute study cited frequently in the article actually shows that plug-in hybrids "remain one of the most promising technologies to off-set petroleum use and minimize negative environmental impact," she said.
Indeed, the EPRI study's summary clearly states that annual and cumulative greenhouse gas emissions in every one of the nine electricity production and plug-in use scenarios considered (lotsof coal to little or no coal, lots of PHEVs to few of them) would be "reduced significantly."
Furthermore, the study found that in any scenario, "each region of the country will yield reductions in GHG emissions."
Felix Kramer had this to say about the story:
"USA Today automotive reporter Jim Healey was quite positive about the test drives he took in Ford and Toyota prototype PHEVs in January:
Now he's gone back to several reports released months ago, including one by the Electric Power Research Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and selectively cherry-picked the most unlikely scenarios under which coal could be the culprit for PHEVs resulting in higher emissions. While eliciting worst-case comments from NRDC, he failed to ask EPRI for its views.
This may be simply be a journalist's report, or it could signal the beginning of a sustained effort by a range of liquid fuel advocates to attempt to slow the growing momentum of support for the electrification of transportation."
In the world of intelligence operations, Blowback typically appears random and without cause, because the public is unaware of the secret operations that provoked it.
Perhaps this is just one reporter's take, or it is "the beginning" that Felix suggests.
Every action has a reaction.
Blowback is predictable.
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News Summary I
*Blowback II courtesy of Andrew Rucklidge, Christopher Cutts Gallery, 2006,