Opinion

Published on May 5th, 2017 | by Luna Kohut

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What will happen to the electric car?

 

The electric car. What a cool idea, right? A car that doesn’t emit any environmentally damaging chemicals and that also allows you to save money that you would’ve been spending on gas. A car that can also look cool. Many popular car manufacturing companies have adapted to this new world that is asking its inhabitants to be more environmentally aware, creating innovative cars such as the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt and Tesla Model S. A lot of people don’t drive past a fifty mile radius day per day, so electric cars make sense. Charge up overnight, and start your day with clean air.

Apparently not a lot of people are too fond of this idea of breathing clean air. Unfortunately one of those people has become the most powerful man in our country, and therefore in the entire world: Donald Trump. There is no concrete statement in which Trump has specifically said that he will kill the electric car, but there is reason to believe that it is possible. Here are some reasons why.

A lot of people know, or should know, that Trump had no real experience in politics before becoming our president. He was a man of “business,” that is to say he made a lot of connections and used that to make himself an image of power. A lot of these connections and friends were people that had money. Unfortunately, oil is big money. Really big money. One of the largest companies in this massive industry is ExxonMobil, which has a revenue amounting to almost $467 billion. So now, our Secretary of State is Rex Tillerson, a man who has worked for ExxonMobil for more than forty years. This particular company is as bad as an oil company can get and is now trying to paint the White House with sticky oil. So, if the EV (electric vehicle) industry is one that supports the polar opposite ideals of the oil industry, why would Trump or Tillerson support that?

One of the few things that Trump has been clear about since his time in office is his “America First” plan. Not surprisingly, it just happens to not include renewable energy or electric vehicles. In fact, it states that the Trump Administration is committed to clean coal technology, which will therefore revive the coal industry. And clean coal technology has a couple of problems. First of all, the term “clean coal” does not make sense, as there is no such thing. Coal is a fossil fuel made from prehistoric ferns and other vegetation that has been encased in the earth for hundreds of thousands of year. When combusted, sulfur dioxide, PM-2.5 and PM-10 are released. PM stands for particulate matter which is the dark soot or ash that you see coming from smokestacks. It’s these three ingredients that are in all coals, making it impossible to be clean and can cause adverse health effects such asthma, respiratory irritation and cancer.

Second, this dedication to saving the coal industry will hurt the existing companies that are dedicated to the production of renewable forms of energy. EV’s have needed federal support throughout the past years in order to be able to compete in a field to heavily dominated by the gasoline engine and large oil companies. The Obama administration was extremely active in keeping the EV community afloat, and Trump has made it clear that he is doing his best to slash most of the projects and organizations Obama tried to help throughout his terms. Throughout the election, Trump repeatedly expressed his contempt for the Obama administration’s climate policies, including the ones critical to the Paris Climate Agreement. Obama’s climate and energy policies generally encouraged the development of low-carbon renewable sources and discouraged the use of coal for electricity. There would be no clear way to say why Trump was so adamantly opposed to these policies, but it is most likely due to his apparent loyalty to oil companies and his debt to voters in coal country. Overall, it just seems like Trump is anti-environment.

So, in theory, Trump and his team could be successful in completely cutting all funding to EV support. They could also attempt to repeal the sections of the Clean Air Act that grants California the unique authority to set its own pollution limits, and allows other states to follow California’s lead.

California has been independent in the way in which it has modernized and adapted its resources to help a struggling planet, and yet our government could put a stop to that. It’s scary but true.

The really cool thing to me about the electric car is that it makes me feel helpful, or like I have a voice. Climate change is such a pressing and important issue that more people should be paying closer attention to, but sometimes it can be hard to get stubborn people to listen. Some people are just stuck in their own opinion that climate change is not their problem.

But the truth is that it’s everyone’s problem. Humans caused global warming, and now we must be the ones to stop it. There’s the big picture.

Now zoom in to a smaller picture of me driving my electric car. Or maybe you just noticed your neighbor has a charging port, or that one of your teachers drives a hybrid. It might just be a couple people that you know, but it leads to considerably fewer harmful emissions. A lot of people drive electric cars nationwide, and luckily, with Obama’s funding, it has become a growing industry. In Santa Monica, especially, it’s hard to find a parking structure that doesn’t have at least one charging station. The best thing about that is that it demonstrates  hope for the future. It shows that the little guy is still able to take responsibility and make the smart decision even when the big guy tries to take away his voice.

Limiting funding may cause the industry to struggle, and eventually people may not even have the option of buying an EV. The electric car was killed once in the 1990s when General Motors released their first electric vehicle, but were soon forced to recall all products and kill the EV. It happened once, so maybe it could be killed again.

If the electric car provides me with a small sense of power for helping my environment, why is it right for that small sense of partaking in progress to be taken away? More importantly, why should that option be taken from everyone?  

The optimist in me wants to believe that Trump will see the environmental benefits of the electic car, and also realize that the United States has the potential to be an influential leader in the emerging clean energy economy worldwide, while also providing more jobs at home. It could be possible that other members of our central government, or maybe even the cabinet will convince him to be more in favor of the EV.
But, even if he does not change his mind, Trump can’t take my power, or even my electric power.

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