CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers introduced a joint resolution encouraging a ban on electric vehicles in the state Friday, but sponsors of the resolution said that their goal was to promote a larger conversation rather than impose an actual ban.
The resolution, introduced to the state legislature on Friday, was sponsored by six Republican state legislators who said in the joint resolution that they support the goal of phasing out electric vehicles by 2035. The resolution’s sponsors said that their goal was to spark larger conversation about banning certain kinds of vehicles in the wake of many states approving bans on gas-powered vehicles in the future.
State Sen. Ed Cooper (R), a co-sponsor of the resolution, said in a phone interview that the resolution is meant to show that a ban on gas-powered vehicles is an “assault” on Wyoming’s oil industries and their way of life. He said sponsors got what they wanted out by provoking a national conversation about bans on gas-powered vehicles, and that an actual ban on electric vehicles would be “ludicrous.”
“I think the thought of an electric vehicle ban is truly completely ludicrous, but it’s no more ludicrous than a ban on gasoline powered vehicles,” he said.
Cooper said about three-quarters of responses to the resolution have been “positive,” but it’s time for the lawmakers to think more “productively” now that they sent their message and promoted conversation about the proposed gasoline vehicle bans in other states.
“Will other states step forward, I don’t know,” he said. “We did our part, we made our statement and that’s pretty much where we’re at.”
On the other hand, 15 other states, including New York and California, have moved to ban gas-powered vehicle sales by 2035 to reduce vehicle emissions to zero. Cooper said in a phone call that the resolution was a response to gas-powered vehicle bans in states like California.
The last clause of the joint resolution instructed Wyoming’s secretary of state to send a copy of the bill to the California governor, who has backed his state’s ban on gas-powered vehicles throughout his governorship.
State Sen. Brian Boner (R), a co-sponsor of the resolution, said in an email that the ban was a “symbolic resolution” meant to spark more discussion on changing vehicles from gas-powered to electric-powered. He said that there is no “coherent” plan to transition vehicles to a different power source.
“This symbolic resolution is meant to provoke a larger discussion about the effectiveness of unrealistic policies which have significant consequences for our quality of life,” he said in an email.
“I hope we can have a good discussion about the technical challenges associated with changing vehicles from using an internal combustion engine to powering our vehicles using the same grid that powers our homes and businesses,” he added. “I don’t see a coherent plan to make that transition in a way the preserves the reliability of the western energy grid.”
State Sen. Jim Anderson (R), who introduced the resolution, explained that he does not actually what electric vehicle sales to be banned in an interview with The Washington Post on Monday. He told the Washington Post that he sponsored the bill to demonstrate that they are “not happy” with the states that proposed to ban gas-powered vehicles.
“I have a problem with somebody saying, ‘Don’t buy any more petroleum vehicles,'” Anderson said to the Washington Post.
The joint resolution states that electric vehicles will hurt the oil and gas industries in Wyoming, which the resolution says employs thousands of people.
“The proliferation of electric vehicles at the expense of gas-powered vehicles will have deleterious impacts on Wyoming’s communities and will be detrimental to Wyoming’s economy and the ability for the country to efficiently engage in commerce,” the joint resolution reads.
Anderson and the remaining co-sponsors of the resolution – Sen. Dan Dockstader, Rep. Donald Burkhart Jr. and Rep. Bill Henderson – did not respond to requests for comment.
Wyoming already has one of the lowest counts of electric vehicles, with only 510 registered electric vehicles in the state as of June 2022, compared to more the 482,000 gas-powered vehicles registered in the state in 2021, according to the Alternative Fuels Data Center. Wyoming has the second lowest number of registered electric vehicles, falling only behind North Dakota, which has 380.
Electric vehicle sales are growing in popularity across the country, as fully electric vehicle sales surged last year and made up 5.8 percent of all vehicles sold in 2022, an increase from 3.2 percent in 2021.
At least 47 states and D.C. offer incentives to support the deployment of use of electric vehicles, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. For example, some states have offered a tax credit on registered electric vehicles, like Colorado who offers a $2,000 tax credit on the purchase of light-duty electric vehicles through 2026. Other states, like Connecticut, offered reduced registration fees on electric vehicles.
Thirty-one states, including those who have incentives, have also imposed “special fees” on electric vehicle registrations that range from $50 in states including Hawaii and Colorado to $225 in Washington, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. In 2021, Idaho proposed to increase their special fee from $140 to $300, or allow electric vehicle owners to pay 2.5 cents per mile, but the measure died in committee.
Wyoming raised its annual fee on electric vehicles from $50 to $200 in 2019, and requires all electric vehicles to have a decal on.