Washington State legislators have come together across the aisle to pass a bill requiring all new light-duty vehicles bought, sold, or registered in the state to be electric-powered by 2030.
With its “Clean Cars 2030” bill, which now awaits Governor Jay Inslee’s signature, Washington becomes the first state in the union “to pass a gas car ban legislatively (as opposed to by executive order), and now has the earliest gas car ban in the U.S.,” reports Electrek. Next up are California and Massachusetts, which are both planning for a ban on fossil-powered cars by 2035.
The Washington bill allows for fuel cell vehicles alongside battery-powered models. Passing by a comfortable margin in the House (54-43), it then squeaked through in the Senate (25-23).
“Part of a larger package directing utilities to prepare the state for all-electric transportation,” the gas car ban is far-reaching in that it extends even to registration, which means that cars purchased outside of Washington and imported into the state still won’t be allowed on the road,” Electrek says. But the publication cautions that the measure “is written more as a set of goals than strict regulation,” and predicts further changes to the law “as Washington State tweaks its implementation.”
The bill also contains a clause that seems to anticipate the adoption (via future legislation) of a road usage fee to help pay for road maintenance.
The issue of how to pay for road repairs as gas tax revenues increasingly dry up currently haunts state policy-makers—a fear that the fossil industry has been keen to stoke. Electrek notes that many regions (Washington included) have punitive EV fees already on the books, aimed at redressing a false belief that the poor condition of U.S. roads is the fault of non-gas-tax paying EV drivers. In reality, the issue long predates the rise of EVs, and instead has its roots in the fact that policy-makers “haven’t raised the gas tax in decades.”
While some might say 10 years is too soon to expect a full switch to EVs for light-duty vehicles, Electrek notes that federal policy-makers in Europe and the United States are “coalescing around the same date.” With automakers making plans to “to end gas car sales by around then,” it could be considered a “neutral target, not even all that ambitious” to aim for 2030.
“Who’s going to want to buy a new gas car by then anyway?” Electrek asks. “If nothing else, they will depreciate rapidly as everyone moves away from driving on gas.”