Wyoming Sues Biden Administration Over ‘Overreaching’ EV Mandates

Gov. Mark Gordon announced Monday that Wyoming will join 25 other states in a lawsuit against President Joe Biden’s administration. This time it’s over new EV standards that require auto manufacturers produce electric vehicles.

Leo Wolfson

July 02, 20245 min read

A selection of Ford F-150 Lightning electric trucks at Ken Garff Ford in Cheyenne.
A selection of Ford F-150 Lightning electric trucks at Ken Garff Ford in Cheyenne. (Greg Johnson, Cowboy State Daily)

Although there are no car manufacturing plants or companies based in the state, Gov. Mark Gordon has signed Wyoming up to fight President Joe Biden’s administration in its effort to push companies to make more electric vehicles and Americans to buy them.

On Monday, Gordon announced that Wyoming is joining 25 other states in a lawsuit against the Biden administration over a new rule issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration imposing new standards requiring auto manufacturers to produce electric vehicles.

Under the new rules announced June 7, fuel economy for gas-powered vehicles must increase 2% per year for model years 2027-2031 for passenger cars, while light trucks must increase 2% per year for model years 2029-2031.

The new vehicle fuel economy standards for model years 2027-2031 were announced last month, with the NHTSA predicting they would save Americans more than $23 billion in fuel costs while also reducing pollution. It’s all part of the administration’s attempt to address climate change.

It may be that these standards gradually phase out the production of gas powered vehicles over time.

The states argue that the new rules impose unworkable standards that leverage the weight of the federal government in requiring auto manufacturers to produce EVs.

“Our federal government should not be issuing overreaching mandates that manipulate the free market,” Gordon said in a Monday press release. “Wyoming residents drive thousands of miles each year through remote areas. They should be able to decide what vehicle technology is most suitable for their needs, not the Biden administration.”

Under the rules, heavy-duty pickup and van fuel efficiency is required to increase 10% per year for model years 2030-2032 and 8% per year for model years 2033-2035.

This will result in a fleetwide average of about 35 mpg by model year 2035, the rule states.

A Look At Wyoming

Dallas Tyrrell, who owns the Tyrrell Honda and Chevrolet dealerships in Cheyenne, said he supports the governor’s lawsuit and doesn’t believe carmakers should have to face mandates on the type of vehicles they make.

“We need to push back against EV mandates,” Tyrrell said. “The federal government should not be dictating people to buy an electric vehicle.”

Cheyenne electric vehicle owner Jason Bloomberg doesn’t agree and believes the governor is playing politics.

“I think the governor engages in a lot of litigation to satisfy certain political groups in Wyoming he needs for his political agenda,” Bloomberg said. “That is not being productive and is costing Wyoming taxpayers in the long run.”

Tyrrell said there isn’t a large customer base for EVs in Wyoming or at his dealership.

He said the lack of charging infrastructure in Wyoming doesn’t make their use convenient or dependable for many people.

“It’s coming on too much too fast,” Tyrrell said of the mandates.

Bloomberg disagrees and said with the option to purchase carbon credits, auto manufacturers will still be able to produce high efficiency gas powered vehicles long into the future.

Not Much Enthusiasm

According to the governor, there are around 1,000 EVs registered in the state, which accounts for around 0.1% of total vehicle registrations. This is much lower than the national average, which according to a Gallup survey in April is about 7%.

Bloomberg said Wyoming should be doing more to serve EV users as he sees a massive opportunity to attract tourists to the state.

Some of his biggest EV customers, Tyrrell said, are Colorado residents from the Denver and Boulder area drawn to buy their vehicles in Wyoming because of the lower overhead costs.

Despite overall growth in the EV industry over the past few years, Tyrrell said his dealership’s sales for the vehicles have remained mostly flat and they only have five on the lot now.

Also contributing to the lack of interest for EVs in Wyoming is the state’s dearth of large municipalities and long stretches in between towns.

The long distances in particular can be challenging during Wyoming’s harsh winter months, which significantly reduce the vehicle’s battery range. Wyoming drivers consistently travel some of the longest distances on average of any state getting from city to city.

“The technology with where it’s at is not conducive to the Wyoming climate,” Tyrrell said.

General Motors has announced it’s transitioning Buick to an all-electric brand by 2030.

Two Buick dealerships in Wyoming opted to jump ship rather than sell electric vehicles.

Earlier this year, Denny Menholt Chevrolet GMC in Cody and Yellowstone Motors in Powell confirmed buyouts from General Motors as opposed to making the necessary investments to sell the Buick brand’s upcoming line of battery-powered EVs.

In January, Gordon joined 15 Republican governors in signing a letter to Biden opposing the proposed rule calling the mandates “unrealistic, costly and prescriptive solutions that harm American consumers.”

Other states in the lawsuit are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at leo@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter