Since January, six states – Indiana, South Carolina, Kansas, Tennessee, New Hampshire, and Montana – have introduced legislation that would require EV owners to pay a fee of up to $180 annually, according to a report released by the environmental advocacy group, Sierra Club.
What’s more, the organization said, other states are lining up to charge such fees, as gasoline taxes decline in an era of EV growth. Arizona’s and Arkansas’ respective Departments of Transportation have proposed such measures.
Georgia, formerly the state with the second-highest EV sales, used to offer a tax credit of up to $5,000 to prospective buyers, but replaced that incentive with a $200 annual fee that led to an 80 percent drop in EV sales, Slate reported in 2015.
And this isn’t the first time that drivers have been penalized for driving green. Wyoming, Colorado, Virginia, Nebraska, Missouri, Washington, North Carolina, Idaho, and Michigan all have implemented yearly fees on electric and hybrid vehicles that vary from $50 to $300 per driver per year, a report by Car & Driver cited over a year ago.
This attack is coming at a time when EVs are just starting to take off within the larger auto industry–and it’s likely no coincidence this attack is coming now, the Sierra Club warns. For more than a year, Koch Industries, a conservative fossil-fuel producer, has spent nearly $10 million dollars on a campaign to boost petroleum-based transportation fuels and attack government support for electric vehicles.
The campaign was presumably created because of the risk EVs represent to the oil and coal industry, the Sierra Club said. American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing state organization funded by the Koch brothers and several other multinational corporations, introduced a resolution to discourage states from providing subsidies for EVs in December 2015.
The proponents of EV fees argue that green vehicles are causing a drop in gas tax revenue. But, says Sierra Club, “A gas tax, as currently implemented, is an outdated revenue source for funding transportation infrastructure. Multiple states have proposed and even developed ways to modernize funding sources for funding public road services, transit, and other projects.”
Some states have considered a vehicle miles-travelled fee and/or a vehicle-weight fee in order to create revenue sources for transportation infrastructure funds. Oregon contemplated an EV fee of $100 per year back in 2013, but the legislation didn’t pass. Instead the state created OReGo, an optional road-traveled tax that saves conventional gas vehicles money while still encouraging consumers to go electric.
“Experimenting with these kinds of alternatives to the gas tax is a much better approach than penalizing drivers of cleaner cars,” the club said.
If you work or live in a state that is considering an EV fee, the environmentalists said to consider the facts that:
- Vermont leaders have recommended holding off on an EV fee until such vehicles make up at least 15 percent of the state’s fleet.
- Now is the time to incentivize, not penalize, people to driver cleaner, greener vehicles that benefit all of us by reducing air pollution dangerous to our health and climate.
“Rather than a genuine push for a fair solution to fund our roads, bridges, and transit, [the fees represent] a coordinated attempt to defend the financial interests of the oil industry,” the Sierra Club warned.