By Bill Pan
A group of six Republican lawmakers in Wyoming are proposing to phase out the sale of new electric vehicles in the state by 2035 to protect its oil and gas industries and preserve critical resources.
In their bill, introduced to the state legislature on Friday, the Republicans said that oil and gas production has “long been one of Wyoming’s proud and valued industries,” which has created countless jobs and contributed to state revenue. They also highlighted the important role gas-powered vehicles have been playing in Wyoming’s trade and transportation.
“The proliferation of electric vehicles at the expense of gas-powered vehicles will have deleterious impacts on Wyoming’s communities and will be detrimental to Wyoming’s economy and the ability for the country to efficiently engage in commerce,” the bill reads.
The lawmakers also expressed concerns that Wyoming’s infrastructure won’t be able to support the widespread use of electric vehicles. Specifically, they said, it’s simply impracticable to install all the charging stations needed across the state’s long-stretching highway system.
“The batteries used in electric vehicles contain critical minerals whose domestic supply is limited and at risk for disruption,” they added. “The critical minerals used in electric batteries are not easily recyclable or disposable, meaning that municipal landfills in Wyoming and elsewhere will be required to develop practices to dispose of these minerals in a safe and responsible manner.”
The proposal didn’t get enough support to advance out of the Wyoming’s Senate Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee.
Electric vehicles use lithium for batteries, and neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, and terbium for drivetrain systems. These minerals are also needed to produce America’s next-generation military weapons such as F-35 fighter jets and precision-guided missiles.
Most of the world’s supply of processed rare earth minerals is currently coming out of China.
Phasing out EVs in Wyoming “will help preserve the country’s critical minerals for vital purposes,” the bill says.
The proposal is a response to President Joe Biden’s goal of ensuring that half of all new cars sold in the United States are electric by 2030.
“A future of the automobile industry, that is electric,” Biden said in 2021 during a White House event announcing a target. “It’s electric, and there’s no turning back. The question is whether it will lead or fall behind in the race for the future.”
To meet the president’s goal, the United States needs at least 10 times the supply of rare earth minerals it is getting now, according to Pini Althaus, the CEO of USA Rare Earth, a Florida-based company that owns one of the largest deposits of heavy rare-earth elements in Texas.
“We probably need about 20 to 25 times more than we have now between now and 2050,” he said in 2021 on the TechFirst podcast.