Six Wyoming Republican State legislators introduced a Joint Resolution to phase out electric vehicle (EV) sales by 2035. The reportage on this legislation distorts its intent, perhaps willfully. Furthermore the chief sponsor of the resolution admits he did it as a joke on California. (That State has set itself up to ban gasoline and Diesel vehicles by 2035.) But the resolution itself raises serious questions that the EV industry, even including Tesla, has ignored.
Details of the Wyoming anti-EV resolution
Original reportage on the resolution comes from The Daily Mail and Motor Authority. Sadly, both reports mischaracterize the legislation. They call it a bill, which, properly speaking, would actually be a new law or a change to existing law. SJ0004 is not a bill. It is a joint resolution expressing the sense of the legislature. At no point does it change any part of Wyoming’s statutes. It offers only encouragement of a goal – and also the sending of direct messages to the President of the United States, the two Senators and at-large Representative from Wyoming, the Vice-President (in her role as President of the Senate), the Speaker of the House, and the Governors of Wyoming and California.
Senator Jim Anderson introduced the resolution last Friday (January 13) as prime sponsor. He has five co-sponsors: Senators Brian Boner, Ed Cooper, and Dan Dockstader, and Representatives Donald Burkhart, Jr. and Bill Henderson.
No one seems to have asked now former Representative Liz Cheney (RINO-Wyo.-AL) for comment.
What the resolution calls for
The resolution instructs the legislature to encourage, and adopt as a goal, the ending of new EV sales by 2035. The “Whereas clauses” start with three points. First, oil and natural gas are two of Wyoming’s chief industries. (The Wyoming state seal mentions oil and mining, as well as livestock and grain.) Second, the resolution cites the jobs in, and revenues from, these industries. Third, it celebrates the contribution of the internal combustion engine to the State’s economy. Actually, it could make that point for the national economy.
The resolution turns next to the major disadvantages of EV ownership and use in the State. Wyoming is vast, and appears to hold twelve charging stations from Tesla alone – all but two serving Interstate highways. An EV battery contains “critical minerals” with a limited domestic supply. (Other critics have pointed to the ethical problem of the cobalt in EV batteries. The world’s cobalt supply comes from mines with child miners working them.) Yet those minerals are “not easily recyclable or disposable,” says the resolution. In fact, recycling of all batteries does present a challenge. At least one company has met that challenge.
But Wyoming would have to develop a new industry to handle the volume of EV batteries that require recycling. Even rechargeable batteries do not last forever. They lose charging capacity with every charge cycle.
The most critical objection
Then the resolution raises its most critical objection: lack of electric generating capacity. Wyoming is part of the Western Interconnection, and shares that with California. California shut down most of its generating capacity, and now suffers from brownouts and rolling blackouts. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) has found himself asking EV owners not to recharge. Yet California wants to ban new internal-combustion engine vehicles by 2035.
In contrast, Wyoming has, since 2021, required power companies to try to sell any coal-fired plants they intend to retire. So Wyoming has tried to protect its electric generating capacity from attrition. Still, these legislators recognize that their state wouldn’t have enough “juice” available to charge one EV for every licensed driver. But they do have two good thing going for them. They have the largest uranium reserves in the United States, and have sites suitable for geothermal development. But such things, of course, take time.
The remaining four points of the resolution are debatable. Again, Senator Anderson admitted he was playing a joke on California for its ban on gasoline vehicles. The last four “Whereas” clauses reflect that attitude.
Still, Senator Anderson has a point. Electric vehicles require a considerably greater adjustment than most people understand. California, in shutting down much of its generating capacity, made that adjustment worse. Wyoming cannot ignore California’s curtailment of electricity production, since the two States share an interconnection. And too few people have thought about the other challenges widespread adoption of electric vehicles will present.
A joint resolution does not actually change any laws. But it should serve to call attention to the challenges of a new technology. If Wyoming wants to remake itself, with new industries it never had before, then its people must understand the challenges. And the federal government must understand this, too – because the federal government owns so much of Wyoming’s land, apart from the Wind River Reservation. So even if Senator Anderson meant to play a joke, he actually raises some points others should take seriously.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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