Washington State bans gas cars by 2030 – the earliest in the US

Jameson Dow  - Apr. 15th 2021 electrek.co

Washington State legislature has passed “Clean Cars 2030,” a bill setting a goal to require all light-duty vehicles of model year 2030 or later to be electric. The bill passed as part of a larger package directing utilities to prepare the state for all-electric transportation.

With this bill, Washington State becomes the first US state to pass a gas car ban legislatively (as opposed to by executive order), and now has the earliest gas car ban in the US. California and Massachusetts also plan gas car bans by 2035.

The bill, which we previously reported on when it moved out of committee, has now passed both houses of the state legislature and goes to Governor Jay Inslee’s (pictured) desk to be signed into law. It passed with a vote of 25-23 in the Senate and 54-43 in the House

Washington’s bill specifically seeks to ban the sale, purchase, or registration of any non-electric vehicle of model year 2030 or later. Thus, it would even apply to cars purchased out of state and imported into Washington.

These would not need to be battery electric vehicles, they can be any electrically powered vehicle. Thus, fuel cell vehicles, which are powered by an electric motor connected to a fuel cell rather than a battery, would qualify as well.

However, the bill is written more as a set of goals than strict regulation. So we are sure that we will see more developments as Washington State tweaks its implementation.

Road usage/VMT fees – better than EV fees

It also includes a clause that won’t go into effect until 75% of vehicles in the state are covered by a road usage/vehicle miles traveled charge, where taxes are assessed based on how many miles a vehicle is driven (possibly also with a multiplier for larger vehicles). The bill itself does not provide for this, though there are separate efforts in Washington State to implement a road usage fee.

Road usage fees would replace or supplement a gas tax to raise revenue to pay for roads. The idea is that road usage fees are a more equitable way to raise funds for transport projects than a gas tax.

Currently, many states are worrying about the future of gas tax revenue as more electric vehicles are adopted. Many states (including Washington) have also implemented punitive electric vehicle fees (backed by fossil industry propaganda) using this rationale, scapegoating electric vehicles for poor road status, rather than the fact that they haven’t raised the gas tax in decades.

Over-reliance on gas tax revenue for road funding is not an issue that currently needs addressing, but it is an issue that will need to be addressed in the future as we move to more electric vehicles. Many (including Electrek) have advocated for a move to a road usage/vehicle miles traveled tax with a weight multiplier as a better solution for road funding. This would also separate road usage from pollution – something that also needs to have a price associated with it.

Earlier than California

Again, as we did in our previous article, we must point out that Washington has leapfrogged California with this effort. While California has always been a leader on environmental regulations, Washington is now beating them by five whole years on electric vehicles.

California is in many ways the home of EVs in the US, with the state accounting for half of national EV sales and home to the largest EV company in the world, with many other automakers setting up technology offices in the San Francisco Bay Area to leverage California’s tech talent in building up their electric and autonomous vehicle programs.

California’s transportation regulations also lead the country, with many other states, including Washington, following California’s ZEV rules.

But Washington, a state that lags behind California in EV sales, still thinks it’s possible to end gas car sales five full years earlier than California. And why shouldn’t they? European governments are coalescing around the same date, automakers are planning to end gas car sales by around then, even the US government wants to be all-electric by then.

If anything, 2030 seems like a neutral target, not even all that ambitious. Who’s going to want to buy a new gas car by then anyway? If nothing else, they will depreciate rapidly as everyone moves away from driving on gas.

We’ll need to stay tuned for further developments on this front, including specifics on Washington’s road usage fees and how exactly this ban will be implemented. But it’s becoming more and more clear: Gas cars are not going to be relevant by the end of this decade. And entities (governments, automakers, consumers) that don’t recognize and work with that timeline are going to end up scrambling by the time the decade is out.


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It's not like I didn't already have enough reasons not to live there.  They just keep providing more.

California and Massachusetts have passed laws banning the sale of new gas cars by 2035.

I expect we will see more states pass bans in the near future but certainly not all. The bans will however have an impact on auto manufacturers' future fleet plans.  We are already seeing it.

Washington State needs to ban Antifa and BLM, not cars.

Nice avatar.  It fits you.

I’m a rancher and contractor in Texas.  I use a 1 ton duality to haul equipment and cattle on a daily basis.  It is not uncommon for me to haul over 200 miles a day in very remote, rural areas.  I have extra fuel tanks just to make sure I do not get stranded.    I do not think an EV will be suitable for my operation.  Their limited range and inability to carry back up supply will cripple my business.  Also, during a power outage, I would be unable to work or feed cattle.  But the most troubling concern would be the inability to get to the hospital or evacuate during the same outage.  For those that aren’t familiar with rural living, in an emergency you have to meet an ambulance in route to make it on time or because of road conditions. These one size fits all mandates are alarming.  Not only are they tyrannical in their basic nature, but they do not consider rural and commercial concerns.  I’m all for free markets and for people buying what they want.  Put all the options on a level playing field and let people buy what works for them.  Having the government pick winners and losers is antithetical to freedom.  

Good reasons, thanks.  The question is, do we believe that climate change is an existential threat to humankind?  For those that do believe that it is and requires strong actions, much will change and we expect to adapt.  Ranching in Texas could very well be a vanishing occupation if we don't do anything and the most devastating climate predictions come true.  I'm with you and would be concerned also it I had the vulnerabilities that you do.  I just don't see doing nothing as a rational alternative.  If EVs are unable to serve the purposes you and others need in the future, and that is an unknown at this time,  you may be driving CNG fueled vehicles instead.

Climate change is not an existential threat to humankind.  We live in an ever changing environment that we have been adapting to since the beginning.  The beauty of humankind is that we can, and have adapted to the environment. The fallacy is having the hubris to think we can change the climate.  Solar minimus/maximums and/or volcanic eruptions will have far more impact than what we can ever do.  We should all do what we can to keep the planet clean and to do what we can to minimize our footprint.  But to call a naturally occurring and absolutely essential for life gas (CO2) a pollutant is absurd.  The problem is that we don’t know what the baseline should be.  All of the CO2 levels that we are comparing are arbitrary.  Why pick those levels or dates?  Is that the homeostasis point that the earth wants?  We can look back over the last 10000 years and see CO2 levels higher and lower than current.  Were those “natural” levels?  Why aren’t today’s levels also “natural”?
I’m sorry, but I see similarities between this and anti smoking measures.  Government did not ban a dangerous substance, instead they taxed it heavily.  You’re seeing the same mechanisms trying to be implemented with CO2.  You can still emit it, you just have to pay the tax or fee.  I believe it will be more effective at transferring wealth and controlling freedom than curbing CO2.

Denying the science, the settled science, and thinking that climate projections are outrageously inaccurate remains an impediment to taking action.  Are the projections accurate?  No one knows that for sure.  What we do know if that doing nothing involves a huge risk to the planet and all the living things that exist there.  As we dither and delay, the easier, less disruptive mitigation opportunities have passed and we are faced with ever more disruptive alternatives with less time to act.  Climate denial may leave us with no good options in the near future.  We need to get started on mitigation to get an idea of what works and how to adjust our actions.

The science is not settled.  That’s the crux.  At most we have 200 years of empirical temperature data.  And that is on a limited scale geographically.  That is a snapshot in terms of climate.  There is no way we can say what is happening now is unnatural.  There is not one climate projection that has been accurate.  It’s not the models fault, they just do not have enough data points to make accurate predictions.  Historical records are replete with climatic changes that were catastrophic.  Some can be tied to volcanic eruptions, comet/asteroid strikes, or my favorite, a huge fresh water lake dam bursting at the end of the little ice age that actually disrupted the Gulf Stream for up to a century.  There are also changes that occurred with no identifiable causes.  The point is, we don’t know what is normal.  And from a logical perspective, we can not know what is abnormal.

The geologic record goes back much further.  200 years is nothing and largely serves only to provide a timeline of warming increase since the Industrial Revolution.  This article, posted some weeks back, is all the warning that should be needed.


Chad:  I'm sure there'll be job-specific exemptions for ICE work vehicles like yours in the future. Even with a push to convert the commuting masses to EVs, such changes will not happen quickly. It'll take decades. The ICE will still be around for another 50 to 100 years, but it most likely will be only a very small percentage of usage. Exceptions will be allowed. So worry not. 

So far, I haven’t seen any in the legislation or proposals. I don’t trust anyone’s intentions. I


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