Washington Legislators Pass Bill Lifting Ban on Zero-Emission Vehicles Program

Statement by Don Anair, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Mar 9, 2020

OLYMPIA, Wash. (March 9, 2020)—Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature on Senate Bill 5811 is now the only thing holding back Washington regulators from drafting a state zero-emission vehicles program. The bill the Senate passed today in a concurrence vote would end the state ban on zero-emission vehicles programs.

If signed into law, the state’s Department of Ecology is expected to initiate a rulemaking process for a new zero-emission vehicles program that would likely require automakers to make more electric vehicles available in the state.

Given the transportation sector is Washington’s biggest source of carbon pollution, it makes sense to begin replacing conventional gasoline-powered vehicles with zero-emission vehicles. Driving the average electric vehicle in Washington contributes 1.3 metric tons of global warming emissions per year, less than a third of the 4.9 metric tons emitted by the average new gasoline-powered car.

Electric vehicles sales have increased significantly in Washington in recent years compared to other states, but new car buyers have fewer model choices than their counterparts in states with zero-emission vehicles programs. In some cases, Washingtonians have had to go to Oregon, which has such a program, to find their preferred electric models.

Below is a statement by Don Anair, Research Director of the Clean Transportation program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Zero-emission vehicles are a critical part of the solution for reducing carbon pollution from the transportation sector. Regardless, until today Washington law has prohibited state regulators from creating rules that would require automakers to do the right thing and sell more zero-emission cars and trucks in state.

“We have no time to waste. With the passage of this bill, Washington is closer to joining the 11 other states that have established successful zero-emission vehicle programs. Whatever state policymakers can do to quickly electrify transportation, clean up fuels, and reduce carbon emissions is a step in the right direction to help us avoid the worst consequences of climate change.”