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News / Northwest

U.S. House passes bill in bid to stop states from banning gas-powered cars

By Ellen Dennis, The Spokesman-Review
Published: September 15, 2023, 10:19am

SPOKANE — The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill likely to ultimately fail that would prevent states from banning gas-powered cars.

While the Democrat-controlled Senate is not poised to bring the bill to the floor for a vote, debates over greenhouse gas emissions, fuel prices and the Washington state Climate Commitment Act have brought discussions about the pros and cons of gas- and electric-powered cars into the limelight.

The bill passed in the House 222-190 on Thursday and received support from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, who leads the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

In a House Rules Committee hearing this week, McMorris Rodgers said the bill is about keeping transportation affordable and “embracing the legacy of the American auto industry.”

Gov. Jay Inslee’s office remains dedicated to its plan to ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles in Washington by 2035, following in the footsteps of California’s push toward zero-emission vehicles.

Inslee spokesperson Mike Faulk said Thursday’s House bill was an act of “chest-beating” that he doesn’t believe will make any lasting change.

“The reason behind this bill is that people who are connected to the fossil fuel industry are trying to protect the fossil fuel industry,” Faulk said. “They’re not really trying to protect consumers. They’re not really trying to protect anybody except those who are trying to wine and dine them.”

Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said on Thursday he disagrees with Inslee’s push toward electric vehicles.

“Whether it’s your washing machine, your car or your stove: Let the market decide what machines they want, and they’ll make good decisions,” Schoesler said.

Under the state’s current plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, gas-powered cars would not be banned outright come 2035, and sales of used vehicles with internal combustion engines would continue.

Historically, air quality standards have been regulated at the federal level. But the federal government granted California permission to make its own regulations more than 60 years ago. Other states that wanted to take after California were given permission by the federal government to do so and adopt California’s standards over the federal government’s. Washington was one of those states.

Ellen Dennis’ work is funded in part by members of the Spokane community via the Community Journalism and Civic Engagement Fund. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.