Wyoming will ban the sale of new electric vehicles by 2035

Change is hard. Humans are creatures of habit and it is in our nature to avoid change. The transition of our personal transportation fleet from fossil fuel burning vehicles to electric vehicles is going to be a huge undertaking.

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

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

Ford F-150 Lightning at Electrify America fast charging station

Wyoming, for example, just passed legislation with the hope of phasing out electric vehicle sales in the state by 2035. to push back against the ban on the new sale of internal combustion engine cars in states such as California and New York.”

“CONSIDERING that the United States has consistently invested in the oil and gas industry to support 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… – Phasing out sales of new electric vehicles by 2035

The resolution titled “Phase Out Sales of New Electric Vehicles by 2035” was introduced last Friday and already has strong support from members of the Wyoming House of Representatives and Senate.

But as with everything, the devil is always in the details. Once you read the resolution and go to sections one and two at the bottom, you can see that this is more of a token gesture than an outright ban. See below:

  • Section 1. That the legislature encourage and state as a goal the sale of new electric vehicles in the state of Wyoming by 2035.
  • Section 2. That the legislature encourage the industries and citizens of Wyoming to restrict the sale and purchase of new electric vehicles in Wyoming with the goal of phasing out sales of new electric vehicles in Wyoming by 2035.

The resolution essentially encourages Wyoming residents and businesses not to buy or sell electric vehicles with the goal of eliminating them completely by 2035. But why? Why does Wyoming care if people switch to electric vehicles?

Dramatic sky over two oil pump jacks in rural Alberta, Canada

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

The resolution verbatim describes how the oil and gas industry employs thousands of Wyoming residents and how the transition to electric vehicles threatens their continued employment. Reading through the document, you feel the concern the sponsors have about the electric future.

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

Transport of a battery system for recycling

Volkswagen battery is transported for recycling

It is true that EV batteries must eventually be replaced and disposed of once they reach the end of their useful life. However, the minerals used in EV batteries are very valuable and do not end up in landfills, but are recycled. As much as 90% of today’s EV batteries are made to be recycled, and companies are being established worldwide to tackle that task.

This resolution may be more ironic than a serious piece of legislation, but it highlights a serious problem for Wyoming. Electric vehicles are coming. It really doesn’t matter if states ban internal combustion engine vehicles or not, because in 10 to 15 years very few people will want to buy one – and that includes most Wyoming residents.

Instead of trying to fight the inevitable, Wyoming needs to plan for an economic future that is more dependent on other industries. They know they have to, and maybe this stunt is really designed to get the attention of those in the federal government who can help with that.

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