Letter in Response to Battery Council International Press Release

Sage Hall
205 Prospect Street


May 5, 1997


Jeannine Addams
Tarkenton & Addams
3340 Peachtree Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30326 

Dear Ms. Addams,

Thank you for sending me the draft of the news release from the Battery Council International (BCI) announcing the article "The Industrial Ecology of Lead and Electric Vehicles" by Robert Socolow and Valerie Thomas in the premiere issue of the Journal of Industrial Ecology.

This peer-reviewed article is one that we are especially pleased to have in the inaugural issue of the Journal of Industrial Ecology. It is authored by two leading scholars in the field, it is carefully researched and it is very well written. It illustrates the power of paying attention to the flow of materials in the economy - a central concept in industrial ecology - on a topic of great public interest. By looking at the flow of lead in the economy and its environmental disposition through the product life cycle, both Lester Lave and colleagues, and Robert Socolow and Valerie Thomas show that considerable insight can be gained in the assessment of the environmental impact of electric vehicles.

It is important that you realize that the article by Socolow and Thomas is not the last word in this debate. In the second issue of the Journal of Industrial Ecology, Lave, Hendrickson and McMichael respond to "The Industrial Ecology of Lead and Electric Cars" and Socolow and Thomas provide a rejoinder to that response.

Given the ongoing character of this debate, your press release presents a somewhat one sided characterization of this matter. I think that it is important for all parties to be scrupulous in their description of the relevant research findings - it is important to the public as it attempts to sort out this article and it is important to the various participants as they attempt to maintain their credibility in what is surely an ongoing debate.

As the editor of the Journal of Industrial Ecology, I am not in a position to correct the draft press release on a point-by-point basis. The knowledge required to arbitrate this debate is beyond the expertise of a single individual - this is one of the reasons why peer review is so important because it allows the Journal to employ the capabilities of those particularly versed in this topic.

I am pleased that you have found that the analysis of the industrial ecology of lead of in the Journal of Industrial Ecology contributes to the public understanding of the environmental implications of electric vehicles and lead-acid batteries. It is the goal of the Journal to continue to serve as a forum for thoughtful analysis and to enrich the understanding of important environmental issues.

Yours truly,

Reid Lifset 
Journal of Industrial Ecology

Prof. Robert Socolow 
Dr. Valerie Thomas 
Prof. Lester Lave 
Prof. Francis McMichael 
Prof. Chris Hendrickson