Jay Leno and the Car That Uses no Fuel
2:53 PM, Apr 28, 2008 • By BRIAN FAUGHNAN
I hate to pick on Jay Leno, but he really makes it too easy. While Leno is a famous gearhead, he seems to share the same basic misunderstanding as many environmentalists who paint the internal combustion engine as the scourge of the planet. Specifically, he seems to think that if a car is powered by something other than gas, it magically becomes non-polluting:
If Ford really had developed a car that can travel 18 or 19 miles using no fuel, the company would undoubtedly be doing a lot better. The reality is that Leno is eschewing gasoline in favor of a combination of coal, natural gas, and nuclear to power his car. (That's assuming he lives in the City of Los Angeles and gets his electricity from Los Angeles Water and Power). I don't know how old the Los Angeles coal-fired plants are, but the Sierra Club warns that coal plants are a significant global warming threat.
This is just a reminder that when it comes to policy responses to global warming, you're rarely going to get the unvarnished truth. The lawmakers that point to alternative fuels and CAFE standards rarely talk about the cost to taxpayers and car owners. The Leno example is a reminder that for all the excitement over electric cars, there's no such thing as a free lunch -- no matter who tries to tell you there is.