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Fight for a ban on gas-powered cars will continue in 2021

A proposal to ban gas-powered cars in Washington state won’t make it through this year’s legislative session. But Matthew Metz, founder of Coltura, is determined to put it back on the table in 2021. And he thinks he can get people in Eastern Washington and Republicans on board.

KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross, reporter Hanna Scott, and traffic maverick Chris Sullivan talked to Metz about his plan on Seattle’s Morning News.

“[Eastern Washington] is the area where most of the [electric] energy is being generated,” Metz said. “And it can be a real boon for rural communities that need jobs.”

The group, helmed by Metz and Janelle London, co-founder of Coltura, fought to introduce House Bill 2515 to the state Legislature this session. The bill required all new passenger vehicles sold in Washington state to be electric, starting in 2030. There are exemptions for police and emergency vehicles, tractors and RVs.

“You can really do everything with an electric vehicle that you can do with a gas car,” Metz said.

Metz is confident that in 10 years, the price of an electric car will match the average price of a gas car on the market. In fact, he’s predicting that electric cars may actually cost less.

“A lot of investment banks and people like Bloomberg and J.P. Morgan have looked at the issue, and they predict that by 2024 or 2025, the sticker price of electric cars is going to be at parity with the gas cars,” Metz said. “The batteries have been historically expensive, but they’re coming down really quickly with economies of scale and technological advance.”

But if electric cars are cheaper to buy and cheaper to fuel – why do we need a law forcing people to buy them?

“Gasoline has a 100-year incumbency advantage,” Metz said. “There’s a lot of propaganda being put out right now by people who want to maintain the status quo. And our bill would generate a lot of private investment … because everyone would know what the rules are and what we need to build to.”

Nine Democrats co-sponsored the bill this year. Metz said he and other electric-car advocates will renew their efforts again next year. They hope they can reach across the aisle to make this a bipartisan effort.

“The fact is that we’re in the midst of a climate crisis,” Metz said. “We need to reduce our emissions a lot. Gas cars are the single biggest source of emissions, both in Washington state and in the nation.”

Metz pointed to several European countries, including Norway, the Netherlands, France, and the UK, that all plan to phase out gas cars over the next several years. Metz said he took inspiration from those measures for HB 2125.

“And if they can do it, why can’t we do it here in Washington? Where we have the cleanest power in the country?”

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