Electrifying the Vehicle Fleet Within the United States, a Feasibilitiy Analysis of Environmental Impact and Technical Deployment

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Master of Environmental Studies Capstone Projects
Environmental Sciences
Physical Sciences and Mathematics
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Cashman, Bryan

In November 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was passed and signed into law, which along with many other funding initiatives, will provide $7.5 billion to begin the infrastructure expansion of electric vehicle charging stations within the United States. This specific funding from the federal government is a crucial step towards the current administration’s carbon neutral goals and the building of a national connected network of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations and having 50% of light duty vehicles sales being electric by 2030. However, achieving these goals is complicated and the beneficial environmental effect of further electric vehicle integration is often debated. This is due to the concerning total carbon footprint produced from the manufacturing of electric vehicles, usage, and growth of power demand from charging station infrastructure. To counter that common viewpoint and through a feasibility analysis of environmental impact and technical deployment, this study has been able to highlight the beneficial and adverse effects of increased usage of electric vehicles and found many solutions and initiatives that are available to alleviate the negative effects. Long term environmental impact comparisons to existing internal combustion engine vehicles do demonstrate the positive environmental advantages of increased electric vehicle usage, although as highlighted, the scale of those advantages vary depending on contributing infrastructure factors. Effective and measurable ways to increase feasibility and mitigate the total carbon footprint from electric vehicle usage and charging station infrastructure include further development and grid inclusion of renewable power sources, utilization of alternative critical material extraction technologies, policy changes to tax benefits or infrastructure construction incentives, and proper societal planning of charging station infrastructure. Committing to more sustainable technologies such as electric vehicles is always promising, however, many factors contribute to the total carbon footprint and utilizing mitigation strategies must be done to make the transition efforts environmentally meaningful. With electric vehicle ownership continuously rising in the United States and government funding becoming available for the construction of more electric vehicle charging station infrastructure, assessing the feasibility of increased electric vehicle usage and renewable based solutions is important to efficiently meet the ever-growing demand.

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