Inslee explains veto on 2030 electric vehicle target

SEATTLE – A 2030 legislative goal to end sales of gasoline and diesel passenger vehicles in Washington has died in Gov. Jay Inslee’s office.

The measure, due to a Senate amendment, could only come into effect after lawmakers approve a road user charge for most state vehicles. Inslee adheres to the 2030 goal, but doesn’t think her fate should be tied to a move on another front.

“Setting and achieving a target of 100% electric vehicles is too important to tie into implementing a separate policy like a road user charge,” Inslee said in a written statement explaining his rejection on Thursday. of the measure.

Inslee’s veto surprised supporters of the measure, who said the 2030 target would send a strong signal to industry, utilities and consumers about the state’s direction with electric vehicles.

“We’re disappointed, but we’ll keep working on it and try to find a way to make it happen,” said Matthew Metz, Seattle-based co-executive director of Coltura, a group campaigning for an America without gasoline. . He had been pushing for the measure.

The 2030 goal of selling only electric vehicles (including hydrogen fuel cells) was hidden in a bill to increase state government and utility planning for electric vehicles. Inslee signed off on this bill, while striking down the 2030 provision.

The transportation sector is Washington’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. And, although Washington is one of the top state markets for electric vehicles, they still represent just 48,153 of the more than 6 million registered vehicles and light vehicles, according to state statistics as of the 28th. February.

In a historic session, the state legislature took on the task of weaning the state from gasoline and diesel vehicles. Lawmakers at the end of the session passed an important bill that offers a wide range of incentives to develop fuels that emit less greenhouse gases and that require the purchase of credits by fuel distributors who do not meet these standards. They also approved a bill that would place a decreasing cap on the state’s greenhouse gas emissions and generate revenue by auctioning pollution allowances.

The two bills, as well as the one aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions of fluorinated gases of human origin, were priorities for the governor. He plans to sign all three Mondays at Shoreline Community College.

During this year’s legislative session, Coltura initially focused its lobbying efforts on a bill that was not high on the governor’s agenda. This legislation proposed that Washington State ban the registration of new gasoline and diesel passenger vehicles from 2030.

This bill was pushed behind the scenes by State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, whose legislative director warned in an email that he would face a swift court challenge in federal court from opponents who would argue that the state had exceeded its legal authority under the federal Clean Air Act.

After that bill did not move forward, Metz scrambled to rally support for another measure setting a date for 2030 to end the sale of new fossil-fueled passenger vehicles.

Initially, this measure was unrelated to road user charges.

But at an April 2 meeting of the Senate Transport Committee, Senator Steve Hobbs, a Democrat, successfully proposed an amendment stating that the target would not be suitable until the cost of using the road covered. not 75% of light vehicles and passenger vehicles registered.

Road user charges are one way to help pay for transportation investments that are now heavily dependent on diesel and gasoline taxes, which are expected to drop sharply as more people turn towards electric vehicles.

While electric vehicles “are great for the environment,” Hobbs said he wanted to make sure that “we recognize that they still use our roads and still need to be serviced.”

Inslee, in a statement released this week, said he was willing to “explore the potential of a road user charge program as part of a larger discussion of transportation revenues.”

Metz says he plans to push again for a 2030 date in the next legislative session and that he will seek Inslee’s support again.

About Robert Pierson

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