LEGISLATIVE WATCH WYOMING: Resolution to Ban Sale of Electric Vehicles Dies in Committee

The measure — which one co-sponsor called “ludicrous” — sought to push back against liberal states’ environmental policies

  • Published In: Politics
  • Last Updated: Jan 17, 2023

By Jacob Gardenswartz

Special to the Wyoming Truth

A proposed resolution expressing the support of the Wyoming State Legislature to ban the sale of electric vehicles throughout the state by 2035 died in committee Monday, as even some lawmakers who initially supported it declined to bring the measure up for a formal vote.

This photo provided by Sony Honda Mobility shows the Afeela concept, an electric sedan that Sony Honda says promises best-in-class entertainment. (Courtesy of Sony Honda Mobility via AP)

Senate Joint Resolution 4, if adopted, would have stated formally that the legislature  “encourages and expresses” the goal of phasing out electric vehicle sales, and “encourages Wyoming’s industries and citizens to limit the sale and purchase” of such cars.

But as a nonbinding resolution, the measure would have no direct impact or rulemaking power if passed, something those advocating for it highlighted.

“We didn’t want to make a bill that would say that the dealerships had to really quit selling those vehicles,” Sen. Jim Anderson (R-Casper), the resolution’s lead sponsor, said before a hearing of the Senate Minerals, Business and Economic Development committee. “We just wanted to make a statement that there is a counter to stopping selling gas vehicles in other states.”

Instead, the primary focus of the resolution was to push back against other states that have moved to limit the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles; the Democratic governors of both California and New York have each put forth policies requiring that all new cars sold in the state be zero-emission vehicles by 2035.

“I take that ban on all petroleum-based vehicles as an assault on our people, on our industries. And I feel like we have an obligation to speak up, to push back, to resist,” said Sen. Ed Cooper (R-Ten Sleep), a cosponsor of the measure. “If somebody’s going to take potshots at Wyoming, we’re probably going to shoot back.”

But even such a nonbinding resolution could have a detrimental impact on businesses in the state, industry stakeholders testified before the committee. Marsha Allen, executive vice president of the Wyoming Automobile Dealers Association, decried the measure as “extremely harmful to us and unreasonable.”

Sen. Jim Anderson (R-Casper), the resolution’s lead sponsor, said the measure was intended to “make a statement” pushing back against liberal states’ bans on gasoline-powered cars. (Photo via the Wyoming State Legislature) 

“In actively suggesting that consumers not purchase and industry not sell electric vehicles, Wyoming is sending the wrong message,” Allen added. “Words hold power, and casual statements made can cause real harm.”

And if the resolution was intended to support Wyoming’s energy industry, it could have the opposite effect. Though increased use of electric cars would decrease demand for Wyoming oil and gas, it would still lead to higher overall energy usage and increase demand for battery components, some of which can be mined in the state.

“It’s best if… Wyoming citizens retain the freedom to choose for themselves the type of vehicles they prefer to drive,” Keith Rittle, a geologist and Wyoming Outdoor Council representative, testified. “While there are many variables to forecast the ultimate impact on Wyoming of EV adoption, it may well turn out to be one that is to the net benefit of Wyoming industry and its fiscal picture.”

“Instead of resisting and kind of shaking our fists and complaining about the direction things are going, we embrace it and recognize that we have more to offer than any other state in the country in terms of a transition towards a partial fleet of electric vehicles,” echoed Sen. Chris Rothfuss (D-Laramie).

By the end of the hearing, even some initial supporters of the resolution had come to oppose its passage. Cooper conceded it was “really pretty ludicrous,” though he argued it was no more so than the measures banning gas powered cars from other states.

In the end, no lawmaker moved to ask the committee to formally vote on the resolution, so it did not proceed. But to its supporters, even getting the topic discussed was a victory.

“It’s made a statement. It’s promoted a lot of discussion. I think that was the purpose of it. Maybe here’s where it ends,” Cooper said.

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