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Phoenix is among the most polluted areas in the U.S., ranking 5th for ozone pollution and 13th for fine particulates. Since electric vehicles (EVs) do not have a tailpipe, they are widely seen as a key technology for reducing local air pollution. Yet while the potential air quality benefits of EVs are qualitatively recognized, there is relatively little research that quantitatively estimates the air quality impacts of EVs. Estimating local air quality impacts is challenging, because it depends on a variety of technical and environmental factors, including season, driving patterns, vehicles replaced, and proximity to power plants. It is critically important for policymakers to have a sense of how air quality would be improved by EV adoption, and furthermore to know how to tailor policies for the largest benefit. 

This project analyzes the impact of EV adoption scenarios on air pollutants in Maricopa County. We particularly focus on air quality impacts for low-income and minority communities, which are disproportionately burdened due to their proximity to highways and industrial zones. EVs may have mixed effects for these communities; on the one hand, emissions will be reduced near high traffic roads and distribution centers, but on the other hand, emissions may be increased near coal or natural gas power plants, which also tend to be sited near vulnerable communities. Examining these effects requires an integrated analysis of traffic flows, marginal emissions from power generation, and spatial patterns of urban socioeconomic and demographic characteristics.  In addition, it requires the development of various scenarios for EV adoption and charging. 




Healthy Urban Environments


April 2022 — Ongoing