Governor Tony Evers vetoed several bills Friday that would have prevented Wisconsin communities from barring the use of vehicles or appliances powered by fossil fuels.
Two bills sought to prevent Wisconsin’s state and local governments from passing mandates that aim to shift away from vehicles or stoves that run on gas in favor of those powered by electricity. Another proposal sought to prevent communities from requiring specific sources of energy.
Republican lawmakers and supporters have said the proposals aimed to protect consumer choice. In his veto message, Evers said signing the bills would diminish the state’s ability to combat climate change by shifting to new technology. “Further, I also object to the Legislature’s continued efforts to preempt local control and undermine trust in local governments across our state,” Evers wrote. “The state should be a partner in — not an obstacle to — addressing the unique challenges facing our local communities.”
Republican lawmakers have said they wanted to stop Wisconsin from following at least seven states, including California, that plan to ban gas-powered vehicles. States like New York have also sought to ban natural gas stoves and furnaces.
Wisconsin hasn’t proposed any such ban. However, Evers’ clean energy plan does call for incentives to buy electric appliances and it supports expansion of the state’s electric vehicle infrastructure. Evers has also set a goal for the state to use carbon-free electricity by 2050.
Around two dozen states have passed legislation to prevent local government bans on natural gas in buildings, according to E&E News.
Brendan Conway is a spokesperson for Milwaukee-based WEC Energy Group, which owns two of the state’s largest utilities. He said they’re disappointed with the governor’s veto.
“The bill would have prevented a patchwork of rules and regulations,” Conway said in a statement. “It also would have ensured customers could make their own energy choices whether they want to put solar panels on their roofs or use a gas stove to make dinner.”