Republicans in the Ohio House of Representatives have sent legislation to the floor that would bar the state Environmental Protection Agency or local governments from blocking the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles.
House Bill 201 would prohibit any state agency, county or township from restricting the sale or use of a motor vehicle based on its energy source, and would prevent any state agency from adopting California’s stringent vehicle emissions standards.
According to Cleveland.com, the bill was backed by the oil and gas industry and the Ohio arm of the Affiliated Construction Trades union. Its GOP sponsors promoted it as a measure against inflation, saying that “unnecessary market restrictions” increase costs, and citing the EV industry supply chain’s reliance on components from abroad (a problem that’s already being addressed by measures in the Inflation Reduction Act).
“HB 201 will ensure that no state agency or local government can hinder the free-market innovations we are seeing in the automotive industry,” said Sarah Spence, Executive Director of the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum. “Allowing the free market to work will give the auto industry the time needed to balance cost and quality while reshoring our manufacturing and supply chain.”
The bill has passed through the committee process and now awaits a vote on the state House floor. Republicans control 66 of the state House’s 100 seats, the party has a supermajority in the state Senate, and the state’s governor, Mike DeWine, is also a Republican, so Democrats have no chance of derailing the bill.
However, as local news outlet Cleveland.com noted, the new law may end up having little or no practical effect. It could be superseded by federal law, or made irrelevant by market forces (it doesn’t prohibit state agencies from purchasing EVs—just from mandating the purchase of EVs). Furthermore, it doesn’t appear that any Ohio authorities are considering an EV mandate. Legislative budget analysts wrote that they are “unaware and have no evidence of any governmental entity in the state enacting such restrictions.”