Wyoming to Ban New Electric Vehicle Sales by 2035

Change is hard. Humans are creatures of habit and it is in our nature to avoid change. Converting our private transport fleet from fossil fuel burning vehicles to electric vehicles will be a huge undertaking.

As with all new disruptive technologies, there will be winners and losers as old technology shuts down while new technology proliferates. The oil and gas industry already knows that electric vehicles are poised to replace the internal combustion engine vehicles it supplies, and demand for its products will decline dramatically in the coming years.

But that doesn’t mean they won’t go down without a fight.

Wyoming, for example, has introduced legislation hoping to phase out sales of electric vehicles in the state by 2035. Legislation sponsor Sen. Jim Anderson, R-Casper, told Cowboy State Daily the reason he introduced the resolution, “to oppose new sales bans on internal combustion engine vehicles in states like California and New York.

“Despite America’s consistent investment in the oil and gas industry to maintain gas-powered vehicles, and that investment has resulted in the continued employment of thousands of people in the oil and gas industry in Wyoming and across the country…” – Phase Out New Electric Vehicle Sales by 2035 to stop

The resolution, titled “End New Electric Vehicle Sales by 2035,” was introduced last Friday and already has strong support from members of the Wyoming House and Senate.

But as with everything, the devil is always in the details. After reading the resolution and going through the first and second parts below, you can see that this is more of a symbolic gesture than an outright ban. See below:

  • Section 1. Encourages and states as a goal that the Legislature will end the sale of new electric vehicles in Wyoming by 2035.
  • Section 2. Encourages Wyoming industries and citizens to limit the sale and purchase of new electric vehicles in Wyoming with the Legislature’s goal of phasing out sales of new electric vehicles in Wyoming by 2035.

The resolution basically encourages Wyoming residents and businesses not to buy or sell electric vehicles, with the goal of phasing them out entirely by 2035. But why? Why is Wyoming worried about people switching to electric vehicles?

Dramatic sky over two oil pumps in rural Alberta, Canada

Because Wyoming is an oil and gas state, it cares. Although Wyoming is the least populated state in the country with just over half a million people (0.17% of the US population), it is the eighth largest oil producer in the US.

The resolution literally lays bare how the oil and gas industry employs thousands of Wyoming residents and how the transition to electric vehicles threatens their continued employment. Reading the document, one can feel the sponsors’ concern about the electric future.

It also has its fair share of fear-mongering as it predicts an impending disaster because: “…the critical minerals used in electric batteries cannot be easily recycled or disposable, meaning development of practices in municipal landfills in Wyoming and elsewhere will be required . to dispose of these minerals in a safe and responsible manner.”

Transporting the battery system for recycling

The Volkswagen battery is transported for recycling

It’s true that eventually EV batteries must be replaced and disposed of when they reach the end of their life. However, the minerals used in EV batteries are very valuable and will be recycled rather than landfilled. Up to 90% of today’s EV batteries are made to be recycled, and companies are being formed around the world to do just that.

This resolution may be more of a cautionary tale than a serious piece of legislation, but it shines a light on a serious issue for Wyoming. Electric cars are coming. It doesn’t matter whether states ban internal combustion engines or not, because in 10 to 15 years, very few people will want to buy one – and that includes most Wyoming residents.

Instead of fighting the inevitable, Wyoming needs to start planning for an economic future that relies more on other industries. They know they have to, and it’s possible the stunt was designed to attract the attention of those in the federal government who could actually help with the case.

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