Opinion: As governor highlights threat from climate change, state agencies ignore his EV purchase requirement

Todd Myers of the Washington Policy Center believes it is more evidence that relying on politicians to achieve environmental goals is unwise.

Todd Myers of the Washington Policy Center believes it is more evidence that relying on politicians to achieve environmental goals is unwise

Todd Myers
Washington Policy Center

With the release of a new report on the impacts of climate change from the IPCC, Governor Inslee tweeted that, “We must focus on mobilizing every part of our economy in the net-zero transition. State-level leadership in the United States is critical to the implementation of international and national policies.” Despite that tough rhetoric, Washington state agencies routinely miss their own targets to reduce CO2 emission.

Todd Myers
Todd Myers

Recent data on state EV purchases are the latest case in point. Years after the governor set a target requiring state agencies to purchase electric vehicles (EVs), they are missing that mark badly, even as he highlights the need for “state-level leadership.”

In January of 2019, Governor Inslee announced that he was accelerating the “Washington State EV Fleets Initiative,” requiring that 50 percent of new state passenger vehicles purchases would be electric by Fiscal Year 2020/21. The governor claimed this would “save taxpayer dollars over time, reconcile state agency purchase practices with current law, and help accelerate EV awareness and adoption throughout the state and beyond.”

How did the state do at meeting the governor’s goal?

In 2019, when 20 percent of new purchases were supposed to be electric, just 11 percent of new passenger vehicle purchases by the Department of Enterprise Services (DES) were EVs. In 2020, there were many fewer cars purchased, but only one of the 34 new cars purchased by DES for state agencies was electric.

Like so many other of the governor’s climate promises, the target – despite the claim that it would save money – was missed badly.

As the state returned to normal in 2022, despite a large increase in revenue, state agencies continued to fall far short of the governor’s target. According to DES, only 9 of the 34 passenger vehicles purchased in 2022 were electric. And while 2023 has just begun, there are 568 vehicles currently on order that are expected to be delivered this year. Of those, which include passenger vehicles, trucks, and SUVs, only 143 are EVS – about 25 percent.

While DES is in charge of most vehicle purchases, agencies also make purchases. I asked the Department of Ecology how many EVs they purchased in 2022. The answer: zero. They purchased only 7 vehicles, all of them trucks: 3 Nissan Titan Pro4Xs, 2 Dodge Ram 3500s, and 2 Dodge Ram 2500s. I assume Ecology’s decision to purchase these trucks is appropriate given their potential uses, but it is evidence that arbitrary EV purchase targets don’t make sense.

Despite the state’s consistent failure to come close to meeting the governor’s target, the state has now adopted a rule to require that 35 percent of new passenger vehicles sold in the state are EVs in 2026, increasing to 100 percent in 2035. Through the first two months of 2023, only 10 percent of new passenger vehicle registrations in Washington are electric. We can be certain that the Department of Ecology will strictly enforce that rule even as it continues to ignore its own mandate to purchase EVs.

When reality intrudes on the governor’s arbitrary goals (whether is it 50% by 2020 or 100% by 2035), the rules are ignored for government agencies. For everyone else, however, the rules are strictly enforced, and the consequences are dismissed as necessary to meet those same arbitrary goals.

This isn’t the only example of the state ignoring requirements to reduce CO2 emissions. As the Capital Press noted last year, “For the 13th straight year, Washington state agencies violated a clean fuels law by failing to buy enough biodiesel.”

Rather than acknowledging that the rules have high costs or don’t align with reality, politicians ignore those costs when it doesn’t affect them. Meanwhile, they make excuses as to why they can’t be expected to follow the rules or targets they set for themselves when compliance becomes difficult.

It is more evidence that relying on politicians to achieve environmental goals is unwise. Despite the lofty rhetoric, politicians like Jay Inslee do what is in their interest – ignoring mandates when necessary, enforcing them on everyone else when it sends the right political signals.

Todd Myers is the director of the Center for the Environment at the Washington Policy Center.

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    Nike Ajax

    Just about everybody one standard deviation to the left or right of the Midwit Curve are well aware that this “global warming” (they had to change the name bc REAL science proved it was total bs) / “climate change” BS is a even bigger scam than the Fed and Covid put together. Apparently even now some in Duh Gubmunt are aware of this BS too, AND, even more so the total limitation of battery powered heavy equipment AND the destruction to the planet by Lithium mining, as well as the TOTAL INABILITY of the current power grid to even begin to support all the charging that would be needed to “support” this exercise in magical thinking and drug induced hallicunations. imho, of course.

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    Fuhrer Insleez and leftists say “Do as I say, not as I do.”

    Or is it “rules are for thee, not for me”?

    I know I’m likely preaching to the choir here in CCT, but elections really do have consequences. Insleez has got to go!

    Note to the State Republican Party: come up with a decent candidate! And not some has-been from a one-horse hick town.

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      Nike Ajax

      Susan, I’m not being snarky, BUT where else is the Washington “republican” party supposed to find a decent candidate? Sure won’t find any north of Centralia, or, in Vancouver or Camas. Of course, we could always get carpetbaggers like Gluestamp and that fraud “representing” Clark 5 that just voted to raise our taxes…….. oh, and it’s Commissar Insleez, Secretary of the Central Committee of the Peepleeze Demokratik Republik of Vashengtonia….


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