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Wyoming set to ban sales of new electric vehicles by 2035

Change is difficult. Humans are creatures of habit and it’s in our nature to avoid change. Transitioning our personal transportation fleet from vehicles that burn fossil fuels to plug-in electric vehicles is going to be a massive undertaking.

And as with all new disruptive technologies, there will be winners and losers as old technology is shut 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 caters to, and demand for its products will drastically decline in the coming years.

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

Ford F-150 Lightning at the Electrify America fast charging station

Wyoming, for example, has just introduced legislation in hopes of phasing out the sale of electric vehicles in the state by 2035. The legislation’s sponsor, Sen. Jim Anderson, R-Casper, has told the Cowboy State Daily that the reason he introduced the resolution was “to push back on bans on new sales of internal combustion engine cars in states like California and New York.”

“WHEREAS the United States has consistently invested in the oil and gas industry to support gasoline-powered vehicles, and that investment has resulted in the continued employment of thousands of people in the oil and gas industry in Wyoming and throughout the country…” – Phasing out sales of new electric vehicles by 2035

The resolution entitled “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.

However, as with everything, the devil is always in the details. Once you read the resolution and reach 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 express as a goal that the sale of new electric vehicles in the State of Wyoming be phased out by 2035.
  • Section 2. That the Legislature encourage Wyoming industries and citizens to limit the sale and purchase of new electric vehicles in Wyoming with the goal of phasing out the sale 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 phasing them out completely by 2035. But why? Why does Wyoming care about people switching to electric vehicles?

Dramatic sky above two oil pumps in rural Alberta Canada

Wyoming cares because it’s an oil and gas state. 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 United States.

The resolution literally explains 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, you can feel the sponsors’ concern about the electric future.

He also has his fair share of alarmism as he predicts impending doom because: “…critical minerals used in electric batteries are not easily recyclable or disposable, which means municipal landfills in Wyoming and elsewhere will need to develop practices to dispose of these minerals safely and responsibly.”

Transporting a battery system for recycling

Volkswagen battery transported for recycling

It is true that eventually EV batteries will need to be replaced and disposed of once they reach the end of their life. However, the minerals used in electric vehicle batteries are very valuable and will not end up in landfill, they will be recycled. Up to 90% of today’s electric vehicle batteries are designed to be recycled, and there are companies being established around the world to handle this task.

This resolution may be more ironic than a serious bill, but it highlights a serious problem for Wyoming. Electric vehicles are coming. It doesn’t matter whether or not states ban internal combustion vehicles 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 start planning for an economic future that relies more on other industries. They know they have to, and maybe this stunt was really designed to get the attention of those in the feds who can help with that.

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