Landmark “Electrification Coalition” Plays Down Environmental Benefits of EVs, Plays Up Oil Dependence

EC-Roadmap-croppedMore than a dozen top executives ranging from Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn to David W. Crane of NRG Energy and Frederick W. Smith of FedEx Corporation jointly announced Monday the launch of the Electrification Coalition, a serious and rigorous industry-backed non-profit with the goal of having 75 percent of all miles driven in this country in 2040 powered by electricity.

The non-profit, non-partisan Coalition’s first act was to release the Electrification Roadmap, a 91-page report “detailing the dangers of oil dependence, explaining the benefits of electrification, describing the challenges facing electric cars, and providing specific policy proposals to overcome those challenges.” The Roadmap is available from the organization’s website. For anyone the slightest bit interested in the challenges and promise of electric cars, it’s required reading.

A Dramatic Commitment

From Monday’s press release:

“It is time for business leaders and policymakers alike to step up,” [FedEx’s] Smith said. “Our unrelenting dependence on oil has threatened our nation for too long. Up to now, electrification seemed like a pipe dream. But we are offering a realistic, practical, achievable plan to build a transportation system that will enhance our national security, propel economic growth, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”

The launch of the Coalition is a positive signal of support from industry for a nascent switch to electric vehicles. Whether that switch happens as quickly as the Coalition hopes/believes remains to be seen, and significant roadblocks exist — all which the Coalition addresses in its exhaustive report.

Security Before the Environment

One notable feature of the Roadmap is its emphasis on the national security benefits of switching America’s fleet of some 200 million vehicles to electricity. Environmental concerns, specifically the contribution of internal combustion engines to global warming, consistently gets only cursory mention.

This is a smart strategy for the DC-based Coalition, because whatever the environmental concerns of those backing the group, many in Washington and around the country are hostile or wary of global warming fears.

In fact, it is becoming increasingly clear that national security is not simply an excuse to promote environmentally friendly industries and legislation, but a solid rationale of its own: even without global warming, the United States needs to find an alternative to gasoline, if we are going to be economically healthy in the long-term.

BC (Ben) Upham is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He has written for the New York Times, and was a writer and editor for News Communications, Inc., a local paper consortium serving Manhattan. When he's not blogging on green issues -- and especially renewable energy -- he's hiking in the Angeles Mountains or hanging out at El Matador.