Even with advances in catalytic converter technology, petroleum-powered cars continue to release pollutants into our communities through tailpipe emissions. Because these emissions are released at the street level, they negatively impact the air that we breathe on a daily basis. EVs are zero-emission vehicles that do not contribute to local air pollution.

It should be noted that some portion of the electricity used to power EVs is produced at energy facilities (e.g. coal-fired power plants) that do pollute through emissions. However, those emissions are released at the point of production, which is typically located far from populated areas.

Electricity generation is directly influenced by local, state and national public policy and regulation. The same cannot be said about imported oil, which is not under our direct control. Over the last several decades, government regulations and improved technology have helped reduce emissions produced by power plants. In recent years there has been a big push to support renewable energy sources, which are now producing a growing percentage of our country's electricity. This trend toward "greening our electric grid" will further reduce the environmental impact of EVs.
Conventional vehicles utilize a lead-acid battery, which is highly toxic and damaging to our environment. Even with its low value as scrap, the recycling rate for lead-acid batteries is reported to be approximately 98% in the United States. Most EVs use advanced battery chemistries with metals such as Nickel and Lithium Ion. These metals are more valuable than lead, and since the batteries are quite large, the value of the spent battery packs will be such that the recycling rate is expected to approach 100%. This fact, combined with government regulation of battery disposal, will help ensure that EV batteries do not have a negative impact on our environment.
The Department of Energy does not believe that the deployment of electric vehicles will create an immediate need for more coal or nuclear plants. This is because of existing capacity and waste in our electric grid. The primary charging time for EVs will be at night, when capacity and waste levels are at their highest.
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