Wisconsin Lawmakers Lean Toward Choice in Vehicles

State reps approve a state bill ensuring future sales of gasoline-powered vehicles
Kwik Trip
Photograph: Shutterstock

In a proactive measure, Wisconsin lawmakers in the State Assembly passed legislation Tuesday ensuring fossil-fuel-based vehicles will continue to be sold in the state and banning local governments from enacting zero-emission mandates that would restrict the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles and appliances.

Kwik Trip joined the American Petroleum Institute and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Business in supporting the legislation developed in response to national policies from the Biden administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calling for reduced emissions and providing incentives for electric-vehicle (EV) purchases. NATSO and SIGMA, two national organizations representing about 80% of fuel marketers in the United States, also want to preserve choice in the marketplace.

Seven State Bans

In support of the Biden administration’s clean-energy goals, new laws in seven states—California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Washington and Maryland—ban sales of gas-powered vehicles after 2035, Money.com said.

In taking the opposite stance, Wisconsin State Rep. Ellen Schutt, a Republican from Clinton, co-authored Assembly Bill 142, which bans governments from determining the kind of vehicles and fuels consumers can purchase. The bill, designed to preserve choice in vehicle sales in the future, passed 63-42 in the state Assembly. The companion Senate Bill 212, which has picked up several co-sponsors, stipulates “no state agency and no local governmental unit may restrict the use or sale of motor vehicles based on the energy source used to power the motor vehicle.”

Federal Fuel Choice Act

Wisconsin's latest action follows federal legislation called The Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act of 2023 (Senate bill 785), which lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are considering to preserve consumers' right to purchase gasoline and fossil-fuel-powered vehicles. This legislation has the support of more than 250 energy and agricultural organizations. But some municipalities in other states have passed ordinances banning new gas stations, in an effort to encourage EV sales.

Democrat Christine Sinicki, a state representative from Milwaukee, said state-level energy-related bills were unnecessary because Wisconsin hasn’t legislated a mandate related to electric vehicle purchases, National Public Radio reported.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, released a clean energy plan last year designed to expand the state’s electric vehicle infrastructure. He also supports the Clean Economy Coalition of Wisconsin’s goal for EVs to represent over 50% of new car sales in the state by 2030, NPR said.

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