Opinion: What good are electric buses in L.A. if we still use coal-generated power?

The first Proterra electric bus built at the local manufacturing plant in Walnut, Calif. on June 13.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: In an era of widespread skepticism, thought leaders must scrupulously adhere to facts and sci-ence. Alas, both were in short supply in The Times’ editorial that identified electric buses as a panacea. (“Electric buses are L.A.'s transit future,” editorial, June 20)

The editorial ignored that Los Angeles’s municipal grid is powered 37% by coal and 25% by hydrocarbons, which are often obtained by hydraulic fracturing . Thus, charging those electric buses in Los Angeles is actually dirtier than using other technologies.

In 2012, I authored legislation enabling the capture of renewable natural gas emitted by dairies and landfills. Until then, those potent greenhouse gases were just released into the atmosphere. It is better for our environment to capture this gas, clean it and use it to power buses than it is to charge electric buses with power generated by burning coal.

The Times should remember that all power has to come from somewhere. I’m a big fan of electric vehicles, as long as clean power is ubiquitous. Until then, The Times should present the issue with more nuance. We still have a lot of work to do to clean our grid, and we should focus on that instead of the latest shiny object.


Mike Gatto, Los Angeles

The writer, a former Democratic Assemblyman, is an attorney whose law firm represents, among other clients, a renewable natural gas producer. The views expressed here are his own.

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