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Proposal to ban gas cars in Washington dead (for now)

Traffic in downtown Seattle. (SDOT)

It looks like a proposal to ban new gas cars in Washington State by 2030 was a bit too ambitious for the short 2020 legislative session.

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One day after Seattle Democratic Rep. Nicole Macri’s bill got a hearing in the House Transportation Committee, it failed to come up for a vote in time to clear Tuesday’s cutoff deadline.

Macri knew the aggressive plan would be a heavy lift, but after working on the bill for more than a year and seeing some positive signs in the private market and elsewhere, she was optimistic the bill could cross the finish line.

Under her bill, HB 2515, starting in 2030, all new vehicles registered in Washington State would have to be zero emission or electric.

“When I first heard about this idea it seemed crazy to me,” Macri said in an interview before the bill died.

But after seeing more movement toward electric vehicles in the private market and other countries taking similar action, she thought this might just be the year.

It was a tough sell, though.

At a Monday committee hearing, Macri explained the urgent need for aggressive action to address climate change, and detailed how her proposal laid out a map for all the things the state would need to tackle to make such a massive transition.

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While many climate activists showed up to speak in support of the plan, several others had concerns, including those is the propane industry, who felt propane should be among the alternative fuel options.

Auto dealers also spoke out against the measure, noting that while the appetite for electric vehicles among car buyers had increased, gas cars still sell well. That had them pointing out how they are in the business of offering what customers want.

Lawmakers on the committee had multiple concerns, including whether there would be enough electric vehicles on the market in 2030, and how affordable those options would be. There were also concerns over whether necessary charging station infrastructure could be built in time.

For now, the bill is dead, and while Macri has yet to comment on the bill’s failure to advance and what comes next, it’s safe to say this won’t be the last we hear of her proposal.

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