How long until they start taking people’s cars?
Not shockingly, Washington Governor Jay Inslee recently signed SB 5974, legislation which bans the registration of most new internal-combustion vehicles in the state by 2030. Similar bans have been put into effect in places like California and the UK, despite serious questions about the realistic nature of making such a switch so rapidly.
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The goal of this new Washington law is to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. As Inslee said at the signing of the bill, “There is no way to talk about climate change without talking about transportation.” He went on to characterize internal combustion engines as something “our grandparents imagined” and EVs as “the transportation system our grandchildren dream of.”
The problem is, depending on your age, your grandparents didn’t just dream of using internal combustion engines, they did, and they refined the technology continuously. In fact, it’s still being refined by automakers which haven’t ceremoniously announced they’ll abandoned ICE cars for EVs to score points with a certain sector of the population.
Some are framing these new laws banning the sale of ICE cars as a solution to skyrocketing gas prices. What we don’t know is how the sharp increase in demand for electricity will affect prices or supply. A quick scan of 5974, which is 122 pages long, doesn’t reveal any mention of beefing up city electric grids or opening new nuclear power plants to accommodate the market shift. Instead, rather expensive and unreliable wind and solar generation methods seem to be the magic bullet to bring society into the new industrialists’ utopia.
It's entirely possible these plans work out, but there are many factors working against them. Government regulation can’t, after all, speed up technological development. EV technology is still in its infancy, relatively speaking, and no doubt will improve as time marches on. Anyone familiar with the internal combustion engine, which pre-dates the first car by quite a bit, can appreciate the difficulties faced by such a challenge. That’s not to mention those challenges posed on the electrical generation and distribution side of things.
Meanwhile, Washington state is moving ahead with its bold plan to not only ban the registration of new ICE cars, but also to provide “free” (or taxpayer-funded) public transportation for kids, remove barriers to fish passage, establish an ultra-high-speed rail, and build four new hybrid-electric ferries. The cost of the full package is a whopping $17 billion and has a total rollout of 16 years. So we’ll see by then how this whole thing works out.
Read the bill for yourself here.