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'A statement': Wyoming lawmakers seek electric vehicle ban; Montana business sees EV use increase

Tesla Charger
Posted at 8:39 AM, Jan 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-18 10:39:49-05

RED LODGE — A group of Wyoming lawmakers are saying 'no' to electric cars, a move meant to bite back against states around the country announcing plans to phase out internal combustion gasoline engines.

Introduced by state Sen. Jim Anderson, a Republican from Casper, Senate Joint Resolution 4 calls for the sale of new electric vehicles to be phased out of Wyoming by 2035.

The bill, sponsored by five other Republican lawmakers, states electric vehicles are impractical for Wyoming and internal combustion engines support Wyoming's oil and gas industries.

Anderson appeared on Fox Business Monday, saying the move is mostly symbolic.

"We just wanted to make this statement since there seems to be a movement nationwide to eliminate our vehicles," Anderson told Fox.

But electric vehicle interest and use are growing in Wyoming, says Dr. Scot Anderson, who organizes the Tesla Owners Club of Jackson Hole.

Dr. Anderson says there are about 300 Teslas driving around Jackson, which is a good showing for the town's population.

"It's a community effort, that we all need to make some type of change to improve our health and the environment in which we live," Dr. Anderson said.

Dr. Anderson highlighted one point in Sen. Anderson's resolution: Wyoming does not have the infrastructure to support electrical vehicles or electric vehicle charging stations.

"I think that the state of Wyoming, just like any other state, needs to put in that infrastructure," Dr. Anderson said. "But as far as the cost of charging stations, I think manufacturers should be responsible for that."

Over the state line in Montana, a historic inn in Red Lodge is seeing electric vehicle traffic bring increased business.

"If I'm right, six years ago, we had one person using them," said Mac Dean, owner of the Yodeler Inn. "Now, in the summertime, we're averaging one or two a week."

The Yodeler Inn has four electric vehicle chargers, three Tesla and one universal, Dean installed six years ago to bring some extra business to the inn.

"We're a destination charger," Dean said. "If people want to use our chargers, they have to book a room. It's just adding more to our hand."

As far as electric vehicle legislation in front of the Montana Legislature this session, two bills from Rep. Denley Loge, R-St. Regis, seek to tax electric vehicle charging stations and add registration fees for EVs—moves Dean called expected and inevitable, just like the future of electric vehicle travel.

"I can't say about Wyoming, but they're coming regardless," Dean said. "You can either get with the program or not."