Legislators in the State of Wyoming have introduced two laws against clean energy, with a stated purpose to protect the state’s fossil fuel based revenue.
The first law, SJ0004, lists reasons to avoid the “misadventure of electric vehicles”. For example, one passage notes that the “vast stretches of highway, coupled with a lack of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, make the widespread use of electric vehicles impracticable for the state.” The legislation also claims that EV batteries are not easily recycled, and would require the development of new waste management techniques. Additionally, the document states that the vehicles contained limited “critical minerals” (rare earths) that put the nation at risk.
Interestingly, coal deposits, which Wyoming has in abundance, are often rich in rare earth deposits. The state has known about its rare earth resources since the middle of the 1900s, but they remain undeveloped.
SJ0004 states a “goal” of phasing out the sale of new EVs by 2035 in Wyoming. The legislators continued nursing their grievances in the final words of the bill, adding a requirement for a copy of the bill to be sent to the Governor of California. (The governor recently announced that California will phase out gasoline-powered cars by 2035).
The second law, SF0092, has a stated purpose to kill off net metering. The proposed legislation first renames “net metering” customers as “small generators”. This appears to be an attempt to reclassify behind the meter rooftop solar power owners as power plant owners; thus opening them up to a new raft of potential regulations and costs. The law specifically notes that these parties are not “public utilities”.
The law states that Wyoming will develop a new set of regulations to compensate these small generators by April of 2024, and that they will be structured so as to “prevent rate subsidization of customer‑generators by other customers of an electric utility.”
The state has a history of introducing problematic laws in reaction to clean energy.
For instance, in 2021 the state enacted HB0207, which set aside $1.2 million of taxpayer funds “for litigation to challenge laws or other actions that impede the export of Wyoming coal or the continued operation of Wyoming’s coal-fired electric generation facilities, including early retirements of those facilities”.
A few months later, Wyoming was denied a chance by the Supreme Court of the United States to override the State of Washington’s permit denial for a coal export facility in 2017. Wyoming lawyers argued that Washington State was limiting the landlocked state’s ability to practice interstate commerce.
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