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Anti-electric vehicle bill dies in committee

Tesla workers cheer on the first Tesla Model S cars sold during a rally at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., in June.
Paul Sakuma
Tesla workers cheer on the first Tesla Model S cars sold during a rally at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif.

A bill aimed at phasing out the sale of electric vehicles in Wyoming will not move forward. The non-binding resolution died in the State Senate Minerals, Business, and Economic Development committee Monday, Jan. 16, when senators rejected the bill without even taking a vote.

Wyoming's people, culture and government have been sustained by the fossil fuel industry for decades. Now the impacts of climate change are already being felt across the globe in the form of ever more frequent hurricanes, heat waves and wildfires — and efforts by the world outside Wyoming to limit the burning of fossil fuels have been met here with some resistance.

Some of that resistance came in the form of the ill-fated Senate Joint Resolution 4. The resolution sought to halt the sale of electric vehicles in Wyoming by 2035, making reference to the state's strong ties to the oil and gas industry and taking aim at what it called "the misadventure of electric vehicles."

Casper Senator Jim Anderson (R-Casper), one of the resolution's sponsors, defended the bill to the Senate Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee Monday.

"What we've seen is that other states are moving to eliminate our petroleum fueled vehicles," Anderson said. "And so we thought we should make a statement that says that we're supporting our petroleum-based vehicles."

But the committee was unimpressed and several senators said they would not support a resolution that limits consumer choices.

Senator Chris Rothfuss (D-Laramie) said the global shift away from fossil fuels is an opportunity for Wyoming, which is fertile ground for nuclear, wind and solar development and which could invest big in the lithium needed for electric vehicle batteries and the rare earth minerals needed for various green technologies.

"If 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 … we can help to pay the bills moving forward for those kids in schools," he said.

The Wyoming Automobile Dealers Association and Wyoming Outdoor Council also opposed the resolution.

After its rejection by the committee, the bill is dead and will not advance.

Jeff is a part-time reporter for Wyoming Public Media, as well as the owner and editor of the Laramie Reporter, a free online news source providing in-depth and investigative coverage of local events and trends.
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