Washington state to spend $450,000 going after gasoline 'superusers'

Washington's state legislature is reportedly funding a $450,000 research program to come up with ways to persuade gasoline "superusers" to switch to EVs.

Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA

Washington state will be spending $450,000 of taxpayer money to go after so-called gasoline "superusers," drivers that allegedly use a disproportionately large amount of gasoline relative to other drivers.

Senate Bill (SB) 5689, which was recently passed by the state legislature, allows researchers in the field to find out personal information on these "superusers." They will be researching who these drivers are, where they live, what they drive, how much they spend on gasoline, and what might induce them to switch from a gasoline vehicle to a battery-electric vehicle, Driving.ca reports.

The results will be collected by January 2023 and will be given to Governor Jay Inslee (D) and the state government for evaluation.

Last July, a Seattle-based electric vehicle (EV) advocacy non-profit called Coltura released a report called "Gasoline Superusers" which likely sparked the state legislature's effort. Coltura conducted their research through data released by the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) 2017 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS).

NHTS surveyed 130,000 households and found that 10 percent of light-duty vehicle drivers use 32 percent of the gasoline bought by all light-duty drivers. According to the data, that 10 percent buys roughly 1,000 gallons per year to drive more than 30,000 miles and consumes more gas than the bottom 60 percent. For this, Coltura coined them the gasoline "superusers."

In a separate investigation conducted by The Seattle Times, research found that 7 percent of Washington state drivers consume roughly 25 percent of the state's gasoline. The most common vehicle found to be behind the "superusers" is a Ford F-150.

The passing of SB 5689 coincides with recent legislation that Inslee signed into law. Starting 2030 all new cars sold in the state of Washington must be electric.

Inslee signed the $16.9 billion "Move Ahead Washington" package which included the bill for all publicly owned and privately owned passenger and light duty vehicles 2030 model or later that are sold, purchased, or registered in the state to be electric. Inslee claimed the legislation would combat climate change, although his efforts usually fall flat.

Additionally, while many states are rolling back their gas taxes due to spiking prices impacts on families, the transportation package is directly funded by taxes on gasoline, which according to the Washington Policy Center, amounts to a $5.4 billion tax increase over the next few years.

According to the legislation, "On or before December 31, 2023, the interagency electric vehicle coordinating council ... shall complete a scoping plan for achieving the 2030 target."

Inslee said in a statement, "Transportation is our state's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. There is no way to talk about climate change without talking about transportation. This package will move us away from the transportation system our grandparents imagined and towards the transportation system our grandchildren dream of."

Inslee added that the legislation included funding for the building of thousands of new electric vehicle charging stations, four new hybrid-electric ferries, 25 transit electrification projects, and free fares for riders 18 and younger on public transportation systems.


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