Can We Stop Inserting Electric Cars Into the Culture Wars?

A Wyoming legislator introduced a bill to ban the sale of EVs by 2035, but admits it’s just a stunt

Tesla electric cars sit at a Supercharger station in Burbank, California
These are electric vehicles, not weapons in the culture war.
Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty

If you sometimes wonder what, exactly, the elected officials in your state do, and whether or not they have your best interests at heart, consider this doozy: last week, Wyoming State Senator Jim Anderson introduced a bill to “[phase] out the sale of new electric vehicles in Wyoming by 2035.”

Yes, you read that right. While California is planning on ending the sale of new gas cars and light-duty trucks (not including certain plug-in hybrids) by 2035 — in order to try and curb human-caused climate change and decrease air pollution — some Republican state legislators apparently want to do the opposite and ban EVs. Or do they? 

“If we pass it or don’t pass it, it doesn’t matter,” Anderson told Automotive News this week. As the outlet notes, “he doesn’t intend for it to pass, and he doesn’t begrudge anybody buying EVs,” the senator only introduced the bill to “make a statement” that we shouldn’t introduce restrictions on gas-powered cars.  

Welcome to the dumbest phase of the electric car debate. (Did we predict this or what?!) If you think Anderson has a legitimate argument here about the feasibility of EVs, please read the bill for yourself. Apart from ending the sale of electric vehicles, as you’ll see way down at the bottom, the bill also proposes sending a copy of the resolution to the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, who signed the executive order phasing out gas cars. “Now that’s how you own the libs!” is what I imagine they thought while writing that. 

The saddest part of this saga is that Anderson does bring up legitimate concerns about the adoption of electric vehicles, but his bad faith argument here — which is a good summation of many (not all) Republican views on electric cars in 2023 — oversimplifies the state of affairs to the point of inanity. 

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The bill argues that the lack of EV infrastructure makes mass adoption impractical, but this totally ignores the fact that this infrastructure is increasing across the country alongside EV purchases (only 5.8% of new vehicle sales in 2022 were electric, after all). And according to Automotive News, Wyoming had the second-lowest number of EV sales in the first 11 months of 2022 (just 228 sold in the whole state!) so of course they don’t have enough charging ports for the entire population yet. 

Then there’s the main argument that fossil fuels like oil and gas are important to the state (drill, baby, drill!), but that line of thinking is presented with the criticism that EVs will require new electric power generation. In other words, while many other states are vying for jobs in the emerging clean-energy economy, Wyoming would rather stick with the old industries that have led to our current climate crisis. And as has been shown time and time again, those industries knew of the “potentially catastrophic” effects of climate change we’re now seeing — but of course Anderson doesn’t mention anything about climate change in this bill, because to follow through with such an inept stunt like this you basically have to pretend climate change is not happening.

Instead of grappling with the real-world issues that need to be ironed out in our transition away from fossil fuels, some legislators would rather ignore the facts, toss partisan bombs and bring electric vehicles unnecessarily into the larger culture wars — a place they absolutely do not belong. 

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