Well, That Was Quick: Resolution to Ban EVs in Wyoming Dies in Committee

Written by Kevin Killough, Cowboy State Daily
Jan. 17, 2023

A Wyoming Senate resolution to phase out electric vehicles in Wyoming has died.

If it had passed the full Legislature, Senate Joint Resolution 4 would have made it a goal that the sale of new electric vehicles (EV) in the state be phased out by 2035.

It requested that Wyoming industries and residents voluntarily limit their sales and purchases of new EVs.

It failed to gain traction with the Senate Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee meeting Jan. 16, but not without some debate.

Voluntary Compliance

The resolution was not a bill and, had it advanced all the way to becoming law, wouldn’t have had the force of a ban.

Its sponsors have said the main purpose was to make a statement against states like California and New York, which are similarly banning the sale of gas-powered cars.

“We didn’t want to make a bill that would say that the dealerships have to really quit selling vehicles,” said Sen. Jim Anderson, R-Casper, the resolution’s sponsor. “We just wanted to make a statement that there is a counter to stopping selling gas vehicles in other states.”

While the resolution wouldn’t have the force of law behind it, it still sparked some spirited testimony against it from representatives of Wyoming’s automotive dealerships and the Wyoming Outdoor Council.

Ignores Benefits

Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, challenged the concern raised by some committee members that the adoption of EVs is a threat to Wyoming industries, including coal, oil and gas.

They still require energy, he said, which will be a challenge as EV use continues to grow.

“It’s exactly the type of challenge that Wyoming stands to benefit from, because we produce all types of power,” Rothfuss said.

The vehicles also require lithium and rare earth minerals, of which Wyoming has large deposits.

Speaking after the committee meeting, Rothfuss told Cowboy State Daily there’s an opportunity with EVs the resolution failed to grasp.

“We’re looking for our opportunities, because we have traditionally been one of the top five energy-producing states,” Rothfuss said.

Risks And Hazards

Anderson introduced the resolution to the Senate Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee, explaining SJ 4 was intended to support Wyoming’s oil and gas industries, which he said are under attack from states that move to outright ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles.

“Our oil and gas industries are huge for Wyoming---and for that matter, every state in the West,” Anderson said.

He said electric vehicles pose a hazardous waste risk, as the batteries are difficult to recycle and dispose of. The state also has a lack of charging infrastructure to support them.

“My friends that have electric vehicles are having trouble with charging stations. They do not have enough charging stations in Wyoming,” Anderson said.

Dealership Response

Marsha Allen, executive vice president of the Wyoming Dealers Association, testified against the bill, saying its message is “extremely concerning.”

“We fully understand the frustrations toward mandates, actions that are taken by other states and even the federal level that trickle down to policy in Wyoming. We do not support those,” Allen said.

However, dealerships across Wyoming sign sales and service agreements with manufacturers, she said. These require dealerships to invest in charging stations, training and tools.

The resolution would put dealers in direct conflict with their manufacturers’ sales and service agreements, Allen said.

As an example, Allen referenced Cadillac, which plans to produce only electric vehicles between 2025 and 2030. For dealers to keep selling the brand, they would need to make a minimum investment of $250,000 in infrastructure for charging stations and stronger lifts, as EVs are heavier than conventional vehicles.

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