Climate Corner: Plug in, Mid-Ohio Valley

Oct 1, 2022

Giulia Mannarino

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the transportation sector is the #1 source of carbon pollution in the United States. At 29% in 2021, transportation now generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. Fortunately, every car company has production plans for electric vehicles (EVs). And most are on the path to a fully electric future. Last year, Chair and CEO of General Motors, Mary T. Barra, announced that the company would stop making gas powered vehicles by 2035. Even Exxon Mobile publicly agreed electric vehicles are the future. In June, in an interview with CNBC’s David Farber, the oil giant’s CEO, Darrin Woods, predicted that by 2040 every new passenger car sold in the world will be electric. EV technology has advanced rapidly and an expansion of the market is definitely anticipated, including many more affordable models.

For the first time since 2019, the North American International Auto Show, the largest in North America, was held in September. President Biden attended opening day and used the opportunity to announce the approval of the first $900 million dollars in U.S. funding to build EV charging stations in 35 states, part of the $1 trillion dollar infrastructure law approved last November. Congress and Biden have pledged tens of billions of dollars in loans, manufacturing and consumer tax credits and grants to speed the transition from internal combustion vehicles to cleaner EVs. The Big Three automakers, General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler, showed off new EVs while the president highlighted the automakers’ EV push, including billions of dollars in investments.

Individuals interested in EVs have the opportunity to attend a local event being held this weekend. Sunday, Oct. 2, the final day of National Drive Electric Week (NDEW). The “Southeast Ohio NDEW Ride and Drive” will be held that day from 1-4 p.m. at Civitan Park, 1500 Blennerhassett Ave., Belpre. Drive Electric Southeast Ohio and the West Virginia Electric Auto Association, groups made up of EV owners and enthusiasts, will be welcoming attendees to this event. The latest makes and models of several electric vehicles will be on site and attendees will have the chance to take them for a drive as well as talk to EV owners and leaders in the clean transportation industry about driving electric. There will be speakers throughout the day and even a raffle. The event is free and open to the public. Signs and banners will be hung up to help you find them.

This shift to transportation’s electrification is critical to addressing the climate crisis but it should have come much sooner! Investigations done by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), as well as other organizations, have uncovered hundreds of pages of historic documents with striking parallels between the automakers and oil companies. CIEL’s research demonstrates that two of America’s biggest automakers, General Motors and Ford, as well as one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, Exxon Mobil Corp. were aware of climate risks years earlier than suspected. The documents reveal that for decades, these companies failed to act on the knowledge that their products were heating the planet. At the same time, these industries were donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to groups that created public doubt about the scientific consensus on global warming.

According to Carroll Muffett, CIEL’s president and CEO, “CIEL’s findings add to the growing body of evidence that the oil industry worked to actively undermine public confidence in climate science and in the need for climate action even as its own knowledge of climate risks was growing.” Muffett’s description of automakers is essentially the same. He stated that the industry was “deeply and actively engaged,” since the 1960s, in understanding how their cars affected the climate. “We also know that … the auto industry was involved in efforts to undermine climate science and stop progress to address climate change,” Muffett said.

It’s sad this behavior seems to be standard operating procedure for many international corporations. Given the urgency of the climate crisis and the increasingly understood negative impacts to the planet and human health, thank goodness the future of transportation is FINALLY electric. We can only hope it’s better late than never for the sake of future generations.


Giulia Mannarino, of Belleville, is a member of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action.