ROCK SPRINGS — No one on the Senate Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee made a motion regarding a ban to cease all sales of electric vehicles (EVs) in Wyoming by 2035 during their meeting on Monday, Jan. 16.
Sen. Jim Anderson, R-Casper, was the sponsor for Senate Joint Resolution No. 0004 — phasing out new electric vehicle sales by 2035.
Anderson said that the bill was written “to support our oil and gas industries.”
“Our oil and gas industry is huge for Wyoming, in every state in the West, for that matter,” said Anderson. “We’ve been producing these products for years and years. We’re trying to save as much as we can with oil. What we’ve seen is that other states are moving to eliminate our petroleum field vehicles.”
“This is just a resolution, not law,” he told the committee. “It’s just making a statement.”
Anderson pointed out that there will be problems with the batteries of EVs since they require a lot of critical minerals that Wyoming doesn’t have.
“The mining for it is done in other countries under different environmental controls,” he said. “There are a lot of things going on with lithium production. We also have a problem with how that’s going to be disposed of. Those batteries are going to be hazardous.”
Anderson noted that there’s a place for the used batteries on Wyoming land, but the state doesn’t have the room for them.
“Those batteries are large and they require a lot of storage. We also have a problem with charging stations; there’s not enough of them in Wyoming,” he said.
Anderson told the committee that Wyoming doesn’t have the infrastructure for electric vehicles and that Wyoming will “need new power generation facilities to power those up.”
“We’re informing the nation that we’re supporting our industries,” he said. “There’s more to come.”
Marsha Allen, executive vice president of the Wyoming Dealers Association, explained how “extremely concerning” the resolution is, even though it was not intended as a bill.
“Although our first versions were not very plentiful, popular or efficient, electric vehicles have been around for years and sold by dealers since their introduction,” she said. “We fully understand the frustrations toward mandates and actions that are taken by other states. This is a complex issue and it still has many unanswered questions; however, this resolution totally ignores the large investments that have been made to the infrastructure, in support of these electric vehicles.”
“Wyoming is sending the wrong message, particularly to those who made investments,” she added.
According to Allen, in 2020, Cadillac announced that all of the cars they will send out will be electric by 2025 to 2030. Buick, GM and Ford plan to do that soon, as well.
“I just have to say that every dealership in Wyoming is either in the process of making these very costly decisions, whether it’s to invest further or updating existing infrastructure requirements and have completed EV infrastructure to maintain their business,” she said. “These dealerships continue to support their businesses, employees and communities in Wyoming. The EV infrastructure is only a drop in the bucket to their total contributions to the state.
“For many years local dealerships have invested in their local communities, provided good jobs and brought in revenue to the state. Words and casual statements can cause real harm.”
Sen. Ed Cooper, SD-20, asked Allen about free enterprise.
“My point is it pits one industry against another industry,” Allen responded. “What I’m hearing is if we’re not oil and gas, we don’t matter. I guess our pushback is that we do matter, we do make a difference and we’re contributing to the state of Wyoming.”
Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Albany County, asked Allen if the legislature should be involved or “let business do what business needs to do.”
Allen said that she believes residents shouldn’t pick and choose businesses and that they’re hurting Wyoming by encouraging others not to purchase vehicles.
Rocket Miner spoke with Jed Smith, sales associate at local car dealership, Brower Brothers Nissan.
“There are so many variables such as how fast they can get EVs for dealerships,” said Smith. “We’re not a certified EV dealership yet because we just don’t have the means to maintain EVs now.”
For now, Smith doesn’t know when the dealership will be able to service EV vehicles.
“We’re not the only ones in Sweetwater County that’s not ready for EVs; there are others,” he noted.
Smith pointed out that since there is a lot of public land available for residents and visitors to use, people will keep relying on fuel-powered vehicles.
“I think EVs may be geared for more populated cities,” he shared. “We’re a conservative state. We’re brought up on minerals and we support it. EVs are not any greener than any combustion engines out there.”
He added, “I’m not saying that people wouldn’t enjoy an EV, but I don’t think EVs will have a large impact on Wyoming. If you’re going to hunt or go off the grid, you’re going to want a fuel-powered vehicle. If you’re going to live in Wyoming, you’re going to explore the outdoors.”
Meanwhile, at the state capitol, Keith Riddle, a representative from the Wyoming Outdoor Council, said that some of the challenges with EVs can be managed. He mentioned benefits of EVs such as lower operating cost, longevity in ownership, superior acceleration and handling, the convenience of charging at home and powering a home during a grid interruption.
“The resolution seems to be at odds with other interests in Wyoming, including the electrical power generation industry which extends to several aspects of the mining industry,” said Riddle. “Wyoming citizens should have the freedom to choose for themselves the type of vehicle they prefer to drive.”
Riddle mentioned that he can see many households having both an electric vehicle and a fuel-powered vehicle.
“It may turn out to be a benefit to Wyoming,” Riddle pointed out.
Chairman Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, shared high statistics in jobs between both industries.
“We have a responsibility to keep Wyoming employed,” he said. “At some point, we have to keep Wyoming financially strong.”
Cooper supported the resolution saying, “I took an oath to protect Wyoming. When I see someone making an open assault on our people, industry, values and our ideas, including a ban on trona-based vehicles, I feel we have the obligation to speak.”
Cooper added, however, that the resolution prompted a lot of discussion among members, but that the discussion may end immediately.
Rothfuss expressed that Wyoming needs to embrace it, recognize it and realize the state has more to offer than other states in terms of the transition of moving a small fleet of electric vehicles forward.
“With that, I just don’t see the truth in this resolution,” he said. “I’m always sympathetic to the economic interests of the state, but I see opportunity here, not loss.”
Rothfuss added, “I’m a consumer and I really want choices. I want to support oil and gas — the jobs they provide for thousands of Wyomingites, but I have concerns about this narrowing a consumer’s choice, so I don’t feel comfortable supporting the resolution.”
Sen. Stacy Jones, R-Rock Springs, shared that she and her family are outdoor enthusiasts. She explained the importance of owning a gas-powered truck to haul snowmobile machines up and down mountains.
“An electric truck won’t pull four snowmobiles,” Jones pointed out during the meeting. “The tourism we have here in Wyoming is so important. We need to have choices.”
Jones discussed the attempt to ban the sales of EVs to Rocket Miner.
“This was a joint resolution that was intended to spur discussion,” she stated. “I am not certain there will ever be a complete ban on EVs. This was a point out that these vehicle bans can go both ways.”
Jones added, “Our gas and diesel fueled vehicles are important to Wyoming and should be treated as such. With some manufacturers planning to only produce electric cars, this is taking our choices away from us. It is important to show our support for oil, gas and coal in our state.”
This story was published on Jan. 21, 2023.
Yep, you made a statement alright, that Wyoming is run by idiots.
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