America’s current fleet of gasoline-powered cars and trucks leaves us dependent on oil, contributes to air pollution problems that threaten our health, and produces large amounts of global warming pollution. “Plug-in” cars are emerging as an effective way to lower global warming emissions, oil use, and smog. A plug-in car is one that can be recharged from the electric grid. Plug-in cars come in two types: plug-in hybrids that are paired with small gasoline engines, and fully electric vehicles that consume no gasoline at all.
As world leaders prepare to meet in Copenhagen to develop a plan of action to combat global warming, all eyes are on the United States. As the world’s largest economy, the second-largest emitter of global warming pollution, and the nation responsible for more of the human-caused carbon dioxide pollution in the atmosphere than any other, the success of the Copenhagen negotiations – and the future of the planet – depend on American leadership.
The United States relies heavily on outdated technology and limited resources for most of its electricity needs. While the production of clean, renewable energy such as wind and solar power is growing, the vast majority of American electricity comes from burning fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—and from nuclear power.
Industrial facilities continue to dump millions of pounds of toxic chemicals into America’s rivers, streams, lakes and ocean waters each year — threatening both the environment and human health. According to the EPA, pollution from industrial facilities is responsible for threatening or fouling water quality in more than 10,000 miles of rivers and more than 200,000 acres of lakes, ponds and estuaries nationwide.
Transportation is responsible for more than two-thirds of our nation’s oil consumption and nearly a third of our carbon dioxide emissions. To make us more energy independent and reduce pol- lution, we need to build a transportation system that uses less oil, takes advantage of alternative fuels, and shifts as much of our travel as possible from transportation modes that consume a lot of energy to those that consume less.