Change is hard. Humans are creatures of habit and it is in our nature to avoid change. Transitioning our personal transportation fleet from fossil fuel burning vehicles to electric vehicles will be a huge undertaking.
And as with all disruptive new technologies, there will be winners and losers as old technology shuts down while new technology expands. 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 be radically reduced in the coming years.
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t going down without a fight.
Wyoming, for example, just introduced legislation hoping to phase out sales of electric vehicles in the state by 2035. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jim Anderson, R-Casper, told the Cowboy State Daily that the reason he introduced the resolution “is to withdraw against banning new sales of cars with internal combustion engines in states like California and New York.”
“WHEREAS the United States has consistently invested in the oil and gas industry to sustain 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 until 2035
The resolution, titled “End 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. When you read the resolution and get to sections one and two at the bottom, you can see that this is more of a symbolic gesture than an outright ban. See below:
- Section 1. That the Legislature encourages and expresses as a goal that the sale of new electric vehicles in the State of Wyoming be phased out by the year 2035.
- Section 2. That the Legislature encourages 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 entirely by 2035. But why? Why does Wyoming care about people switching to electric vehicles?
Wyoming cares because it’s an oil and gas state. Although Wyoming is the least populous state in the nation with just over half a million residents (0.17% of the US population), it is the eight largest oil producer in the US.
The resolution literally states that the oil and gas industry employs thousands of Wyoming residents and that the transition to electric vehicles threatens their continued employment. Reading the document, one can feel the sponsors’ concern for the electric future.
It also has its fair share of scaremongering as it predicts impending disaster because: “…critical minerals used in electric batteries are not easily recycled or disposable, meaning that municipal landfills in Wyoming and elsewhere will have to develop practices to take care of it in a safe and responsible way”.
The Volkswagen battery is transported for recycling
The truth is that eventually EV batteries will need to be replaced and disposed of when they reach the end of their useful life. However, the minerals used in EV batteries are very valuable and will not end up in a landfill, but will be recycled. As much as 90% of today’s EV batteries are made for recycling, and there are companies all over the world dedicated to that task.
This resolution may be more tongue-in-cheek than serious legislation, but it shines a light on a serious issue for Wyoming. Electric vehicles are coming. It really doesn’t matter if states ban internal combustion vehicles or not because in 10 to 15 years very few people will want to buy them – 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 is really designed to get the attention of those in the federal government who can help.