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TCTI: Too Crazy To Ignore

Dave Ross

Even eco-friendly drivers had better check their footprint

So, as someone who's driven a hybrid for 13 years, I'm ready to make a deal with my gas guzzling counterparts. (AP Photo/File)

It turns out even electric cars can leave a footprint because the batteries require materials that have to be dug out of the ground.

"As part of the mining process you need a lot of hydrochloric acid," explains John McElroy, longtime auto industry observer, and host of Autoline Daily.

He says those new Lithium Ion batteries in all-electric cars like the Tesla need huge amounts of graphite from China. But the mines kick up so much pollution, even China has had enough.

"It not only pollutes the air, it causes crop damage to the extent that the Chinese government is now closing down all kinds of graphite mines," says McElroy.

As for the nickel used for the nickel metal hydride batteries in older hybrids a lot of that comes from smelters in Sudbury, Ontario. "And if you look at pictures, it looks like a moonscape," he says.

But at least you can console yourself that the batteries can be recycled, maybe? Please?

"There is no recycling infrastructure anywhere in the world to handle lithium ion batteries," says McElroy.

So, as someone who's driven a hybrid for 13 years, I'm ready to make a deal with my gas guzzling counterparts. I won't ask you about your carbon footprint, and you don't hassle me about my hydrochloric acid footprint.

And please don't mention Sudbury.

And try not to notice that pile of un-recycled batteries.

We'll all just accept our mutual guilt.

Dave Ross on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM

Tune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave Ross on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM

  • Dave Ross on KIRO Radio 97.3 FMTune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

About the Author


Dave Ross hosts the Morning News on KIRO Radio weekdays from 5-9 a.m. Dave has won the national Edward R. Murrow Award for writing five times since he started at KIRO Radio in 1978.

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