OLYMPIA—State and local governments would be required to purchase only electric vehicles (EVs) with passage of a bill now moving through the Washington legislature. HB 1832 will be considered by the House State Government & Tribal Relations Committee this week in Olympia.
“The science is clear. We must act urgently to address climate change. We simply cannot keep waiting to act on eliminating carbon outputs in our transportation sector,” said Rep. Nicole Macri (D-Seattle). “If we are going to pursue policies that move the entire state toward bold steps to address climate change, then we in the public sector must lead by example.”
A 2017 analysis prepared by the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services calculated that purchasing a Chevrolet Bolt EV instead of a comparable gas-powered vehicle would save Washington taxpayers more than $2500. Phasing in an electrically powered public fleet would stem the outflow of millions of dollars from Washington taxpayers to foreign oil providers and keep those dollars local. It would save taxpayers millions of dollars in public fleet fuel and vehicle maintenance costs each year.
“Washington has had a law on the books since 2007 calling for electric fleet vehicles but 12 years later, less than one percent of the more than 30,000 public vehicles are EVs,” said Matthew Metz, founder and co-executive director of Coltura, a Seattle-based nonprofit working to accelerate America’s transition toward clean alternatives to gasoline vehicles.
Coltura published “Recharged Required” in 2018, which documented how public agencies have failed to comply with existing requirements to transition publicly owned vehicles to electric vehicles.
“This bill will put some real teeth into the 2007 EV mandate. It requires state governments to purchase only electric light-duty vehicles beginning in 2023, and for local government fleets to purchase only electric light-duty vehicles beginning in 2025,” said Metz.
The transition to EVs would also lower volumes of petroleum release from motor vehicles into Puget Sound and other waterways, reducing a significant threat to chinook salmon and other marine life.
Electric vehicles are deployed in an increasingly broad array of makes and models, including SUVs and pickup trucks. Ford recently announced its plan to make a fully electric F-150. Existing electric cars can already travel 300 miles on a single charge and refuel in 20 minutes. With battery technology advancing quickly, range and fueling speed will continue to improve.
The bill applies to state agencies, public colleges and universities, counties, cities, and special purpose districts. It would require all jurisdictions to purchase only electric vehicles by 2027, with limited exceptions. Existing gas and diesel-powered vehicles would be grandfathered under the law.
HB 1832 is scheduled for a hearing Wednesday, February 13 at 1:30 p.m. before the House State Government & Tribal Relations Committee.