Hot Topic: Electric Cars Cut Air Pollution, Reliance on Foreign Oil

Earlier this year, two major automobile companies announced electric cars for the mass market. The alternative fuel vehicles – the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt – and others could help reduce urban air pollution and cut our reliance on imported oil, says Monica Mazurek, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and a member of the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT). For the second year, Mazurek is teaching a Byrne Seminar “Atmospheric Brown Clouds: the ABC’s of Global Air Pollution.” She spoke with Rutgers Today on the potential benefits and remaining challenges to jump-starting electric cars as a viable transportation option.

Rutgers Today: What are the immediate benefits of electric cars?

Mazurek: I could start with air pollution and global warming, but let’s talk about economics. In 2007, there were 80 billion vehicle miles traveled in New Jersey. Think of all the gasoline required to fuel those miles. Then think about how 70 percent of that gasoline was imported. That’s a lot of money going out of our state and country just to buy transportation fuel. If we can move some of our vehicle-miles from gasoline to electric, we could keep more of that money in the United States and even in New Jersey. Electric cars can also run on energy generated by renewable resources – solar, wind, and hydroelectric power, which do not add particulates or greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Expanding domestic alternative fuels and transporation infrastructure also creates new jobs, strengthens fuel security, and supports small and large businesses’ bottom lines. Economies cannot grow without a secure and affordable energy supply. To read the more in depth interview by Carl Blesch click here