Wyoming’s Proposed EV ‘Ban’ Is the Worst Kind of Performative Art

If only the state had an abundant natural resource to develop as a sustainable energy source for EVs in a decade.

byAaron Cole| PUBLISHED Jan 17, 2023 2:51 PM
Wyoming’s Proposed EV ‘Ban’ Is the Worst Kind of Performative Art
Welcome to Wyoming State Highway sign welcomes drivers. (Photo by: Visions of America/Joe Sohm/Universal Images Group via Getty Images).
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Perhaps still reeling from the “Yellowstone” season five finale from two weeks ago, legislators in Wyoming have found something else to occupy their time and minds from the next installment in the Dutton saga: Drafting a middle finger-shaped resolution to send to California

The resolution, introduced last week, would recommend Wyoming residents to buy internal-combustion engine cars up to 2035 and to “phase out” sales of electric vehicles by that year, too. Heads up: Recommend will do a lot of lifting if the resolution passes. That's because there is no enforcement of the recommendation nor mandatory participation—it’s a resolution, not a law. 

Instead, the joint resolution’s aim is clearer in its last sentence: “That the Secretary of State of Wyoming transmit copies of this resolution to the President of the United States, each member of Wyoming's congressional delegation, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the governor of Wyoming and the governor of California.” 

Which is to say, Wyoming’s resolution, if passed, would mean about as much as a strongly worded email but with an official vote tally as an attachment. 

To be clear, Wyoming does not adhere to the California Air Resource Board’s mandated emissions targets for new cars, nor has it adopted that state’s zero-emissions vehicles sales targets that it’s set out, which more than a dozen other states have adopted including nearby Colorado. The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Jim Anderson, a Republican from Casper, Wyoming, told Cowboy State Daily: “The (Wyoming) Legislature would be saying, ‘If you don’t like our petroleum cars, well, we don’t like your electric cars.’” 

What he’s referring to is the state’s significant petroleum drilling and refinery operations, which contribute 25% or more to the state’s GDP, according to researchers. That’s a lot, and it’s no surprise that electric vehicles could threaten that state’s main economic driver; energy is exported in massive amounts due to the state’s relatively small populace and is the state’s biggest commodity, ahead of uranium and other mining operations. 

But symbolic and hyperbolic posturing isn’t effective policy. Nor is it especially productive. If Wyoming wants a seat at the table to discuss how its economy can sell energy to states that might need it to power electric cars, it should have one. If they want to address in good faith how middle-American states can effectively assert their interests in EV infrastructure discussions, they can do that too. This resolution does neither.

Or, if they want to continue to lead the U.S. in wind-energy development—as it has since the 1990s, thanks to favorable winds across the state—love letters to its oil and gas industry disguised as a resolution isn’t the way to do that. Because that's all this resolution is—hot air. 

In another way the Cowboy State should understand: this waste of time is all hat and no cattle.  

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