Many policies aiming to “green” the American car culture may do just the opposite. This study explores the environmental implications of several commercially available vehicle and fuel types, and identifies where policies could be improved to result in net benefits to Americans. It debunks several myths fueling the push for more biofuels and electric vehicles. Ultimately, government investment needs to spur technological development, not simply entrench and institutionalize first-generation efforts to ‘green’ the car culture. Policy makers should not promote electric vehicles until the energy sector overall becomes less reliant on high-carbon sources. They should also incorporate a holistic approach to renewable fuel policy that looks at more than carbon emissions but factors such as water and land use.
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