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Wyoming's Resolution to "Ban" Electric Vehicles Falls Short

Over the last week, Wyoming had found itself at the center of environmental policy and debate over electric vehicles. The state had proposed a resolution to “ban” sales of electric vehicles by 2035. It was struck down by the Senate Minerals, Business, and Economic Development Committee, essentially killing any hope of a decrease in EVs or the near future. While the stir from the controversial resolution was short lived, let’s look into just what contextualized the bill in the first place, and how it could have impacted the state of Wyoming.

How did the resolution come about in the first place?

Conservative legislators crafted Senate Joint Resolution 4 at the beginning of the month, which intended to gradually decrease and eliminate the sales of EVs by 2035. It was justified on the grounds that electric vehicles would directly harm their long-standing, successful oil and natural gas industries, which is factually true and defensible. In 2021, the most recent data from Wyoming’s State Geological Survey, the Cowboy State ranks top 10 in both the nation’s crude oil and natural gas production. The state’s payroll of employees in the natural gas/coal industry exceeds over $1 billion. It is crystal clear that the economy of Wyoming heavily relies on these fossil fuels. However, the resolution still illuminates holes within their argument. These cars would still produce a demand for energy and provide Wyoming “the type of challenge that Wyoming stands to benefit from, because [they] produce all types of power,” according to Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie for the Cowboy State Daily. Electric vehicles are composed of lithium and other expensive, scarce minerals, which Wyoming has plentiful deposits of. Supporters of the “ban” also mentioned the hazardous batteries powering EVs, as they are difficult to discard and recycle. While it’s true that batteries can be hazardous and hold dangerous environmental drawbacks in itself, the irony in criticizing battery waste while defending the combustion of coal and natural gas is both egregious and absurd. Solutions to recycling batteries are far more attainable and reasonable than continuing to pump out potent greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide and methane that chew away at our Earth’s precious ozone layer.

If it had passed, what would the resolution have done?

Now, I’ve been saying “ban” because, hilariously enough, the resolution would not even have banned electric vehicles in the state. Section 2 of the resolution states it “encourages Wyoming's industries and citizens to limit the sale and purchase of new electric vehicles in Wyoming.” Nowhere does it explicitly mention a complete ban on EV sales that would be strictly enforced. There would’ve merely been an encouragement of halting electric vehicle sales, but that’s it. The proposal was a resolution, not a bill or law, meaning it could not have been rigorously enforced by the government. For the people of Wyoming, even if Wyoming Senate Resolution 4 would have somehow passed through the government and intertwined itself in the law of the land, you would still be able to purchase EVs, should you be persistent and brave enough.

While the justification behind the proposal is solid at first glance, once you read closer, any person could objectively decide that it is wise to strike it down. Especially in a world where the future inevitably lies in renewable energy and cleaner forms of transportation, this resolution just would not have worked. It would have been a step backward on the stairway of progress, not only for environmental justice, but in the inevitable shift in our nation’s economy and way of production. We can’t keep living in a world where our society relies on the burning of fossil fuels, it is unsustainable and hazardous. Collectively, we must find a solution. We must discover a compromise between creating a safe, healthy Earth for generations to come, without sacrificing the great people of the fossil fuel industry, who do not deserve to be left in the dust in search for a sustainable, efficient, and clean alternative to fossil fuel energy.

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