What’s so bad about gasoline?
A gallon of gasoline weighs 6 pounds. When it is burned in our cars, the carbon pulls an additional 14 pounds of oxygen from the air to make a total of 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that is the main driver of climate change.
Gasoline, and the crude oil it comes from, cause environmental harms all along its life cycle, from oil exploration and extraction, to moving the oil (pipeline spills happen every day), to refining it into gasoline, to storing it in underground tanks at gas stations, to burning it in our cars.
Life Cycle Harms of Gasoline
The transportation sector is the biggest source of carbon emissions, at 32% of the US carbon footprint, 41% for California (with light-duty vehicles making up 70% of the total), and 47% for Washington State. Overloading the earth's atmosphere with carbon dioxide is causing warming land and ocean temperatures resulting in more severe storms, droughts and other weather events. In 2017 alone, these types of natural disasters cost the nation $306 billion. Moving away from gasoline-powered vehicles to clean alternatives is critical to the effort to avert catastrophic climate change.
Vehicle emissions also account for 80% of smog-causing air pollution. They increase risks of asthma, heart and lung disease, dementia and cancers – especially in children and for those who live near busy roads or commute long distances.
More Americans die each year from vehicle emissions (58,000) than from vehicle crashes (38,000) or secondhand smoke (41,000), or the opioid crisis (47,000). On average, every tank of gas burned costs $18 in health and climate costs.
Exposure to harmful toxic air pollutants from other vehicles is higher inside vehicles than outside; your vehicle is basically a “box collecting toxic gases from the vehicles around you.”
California was ranked dead last for 17 of 18 years for air quality by the American Lung Association — and that was before the recent wildfires. Seventy percent of Californians live in areas with unhealthy air, much of it caused by the ozone (smog) and particle pollution from vehicle emissions. Seattle is the 15th most polluted city for short-term particle pollution.
Gasoline purchases finance oil suppliers, including despots in the Middle East. Driving a gas car means:
writing a check to Big Oil for hundreds of dollars a year;
supporting the perpetuation of myths and dirty tactics to keep the public tethered to polluting gasoline;
financing the secret agendas of the Koch Brothers and OPEC –agendas that people who support the environment and civil rights may not agree with;
helping Big Oil get certain people elected – for many of us, canceling out our vote for someone else.
We’re ready to phase out gasoline and move to cleaner alternatives.
Electricity is getting cleaner every year, as more of it comes from clean, renewable sources like sun and wind, and 24/7 power from renewables plus battery storage is becoming cheaper than fossil fuels. In all 50 states, the global warming emissions from an electric vehicle are less than those of a gas car, even when considered across the lifetime of the vehicle.
Gasoline will always be a polluting fossil fuel, that is burned once and gone forever. In contrast, electric vehicle batteries are lasting 400,000 miles and more in vehicles, then re-used for stationary electricity storage. After that, their raw materials can be largely (or fully) recycled.
Widespread adoption of electric vehicles would reduce electricity rates for all customers — even those who don’t drive an electric vehicle.
In California, adding 3.9 million EVs would only require a 5% increase in grid capacity. The grid in Texas already has capacity to accommodate a complete transition to electric vehicles charged during off-peak hours. Assuming electric vehicles charge during off-peak hours, it’s estimated that across the country, the electric grid could already accommodate 160 million electric vehicles today. And electric vehicles themselves, with their giant batteries that can charge when sources of electricity like solar and wind are plentiful, can improve grid stability and efficiency, and help utilities integrate more renewable energy onto the grid.
Many electric vehicles are already affordable today. Lifetime costs for many electric vehicles are already cheaper than for gas cars, due to cheaper fuel (electricity), less maintenance and batteries that are forecast to last 500,000 miles (it’s like getting 2 cars for the price of one!). Upfront sticker prices for EVs are forecast to be cheaper than those for comparable gas cars in the next few years.
Concerns about EV batteries are being addressed.
Many EV models get more than 200 miles per charge; Ford has announced an electric SUV with 370 miles of range. Rivian’s electric pickup truck boasts 400 miles of range and an 11,000 pound towing capacity. The average American drives less than 40 miles a day.
Electric vehicles are safer than gas cars. Electric vehicles can be charged every night while you sleep -- no more waiting at gas stations and breathing toxic fumes.
If you have a regular household electrical outlet (110 volts) within reach of your electric vehicle, you can add about 40 to 60 miles of range overnight.
Used electric vehicles are available in many parts of the country for $6,000 or less. (Low-income Californians can take $5,000 off the cost of a used electric vehicle, AND get free charging installed at home.) Qualifying residents of San Mateo County can get $4,000 off the cost of a used plug-in hybrid vehicle, and Bay Area residents who qualify for the Clean Cars for All program also get $5,000 off a used EV plus free home charger installation.
Finally, moving to electric vehicles from gasoline advances environmental justice and equity.
Help Share The Facts About Gas
Big Oil spends millions of dollars on ads and millions more on lobbying.
We need all the help we can get to spread the word about gasoline and the huge negative impact it has on health, the environment and equality.
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