Washington state legislators passed a law to outlaw most new gasoline-powered cars in the next eight years.
SB 5974, which was recently signed (pdf) by Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee, establishes that “all publicly owned and privately owned passenger and light duty vehicles of model year 2030 or later that are sold, purchased, or registered in Washington state be electric vehicles” and creates an “interagency electric vehicle coordinating council.”
During the bill signing this week, Inslee said that the measure is climate-related and will “move us away from the transportation system our grandparents imagined and towards the transportation system our grandchildren dream of.”
Reports indicate that electric vehicles are cost-prohibitive for many Americans, with an average price for an electric car hovering around $50,000. According to local media, just 1.3 percent of cars on the road in Washington state are battery-powered.
Jeremy Horpedahl, an economist at the University of Arkansas, said the 2030 target is “overly ambitious.”
“A better approach would be to gradually encourage consumers to switch to electric vehicles and for private enterprise to build the charging infrastructure with incentives,” he told The Center Square, adding that consumers shouldn’t be forced to purchase electric vehicles.
“But whatever the ideal approach is, using economic incentives to encourage” electric vehicles is “far better than a strict mandate that bans fossil-fuel automobiles,” Horpedahl concluded.
Republicans in the state Legislature said they were cut out of negotiations over the transportation package. The bill, they argue, is not realistic.
“They want to force everybody into an electric vehicle for whatever reason they deem fit,” said Yakima Republican Sen. Curtis King, the ranking member of the Senate Transportation Committee, according to the Yakima Herald. “They want to take the choice away from the people because they think government knows more than anybody else.”
“There’s a lot more to it than just having the cars available,” Rep. Andrew Barkis, another Republican, told the paper. “We’ve got a long way to go for power supply and infrastructure and everything that goes along with it.”
There have also been concerns raised about electric vehicles’ spent lithium-ion batteries. According to the International Energy Agency, a predicted 23 million electric vehicles sold in 2030 could produce 750,000 tonnes of retired batteries by 2040.
It comes as AAA data shows that as of Friday, gas prices across the United States have remained close to historically high levels. The average price of a gallon of regular gas costs about $4.21 per gallon, AAA data shows, while Washington state averages about $4.72 per gallon