California has become the latest state to fall victim to the fossil fuel industry’s push for EV fees. Two bills, SB1 and AB1, both transportation funding bills, include new annual fees for EVs in the amount of $100 and $165 respectively.
I previously wrote another piece showing why these EV fees seem are not as reasonable as they seem.
EV advocacy group Plug In America has sent out an email opposing the move, with a link to contact your representatives and tell them what you think about it. You can view that email, and contact your representatives if you live in California, here.
For more information on this issue and at the danger of repeating myself, I would certainly encourage you to read my previous article about EV fees (which I linked above, but here it is again). In it, I lay out some calculations and propose alternate solutions which would be more fair than those being proposed by the fossil fuel industry.
But this particular proposal is personal to me, since I live in California. California has long been a leader on the environment and on technology, and this move would unfairly punish early adopters, and would tax people who drive less the same amount as people who drive more – who do more damage to roads.
So since it’s personal, here are a few personal calculations. My car was rated by the EPA at 119MPGe and I drive about 5,000 miles per year. So with that amount of mileage, were I to use gas, I would pay roughly $15 of gas taxes per year, even at California’s relatively high gas tax (38 cents) – so the $165 fee would be eleven times higher. Or, looked at another way, since I spend about $150/year on electricity for my car, this fee would impose about a 110% tax on my electricity costs – much higher than the percentage-equivalent tax on gasoline.
Yes I drive fewer miles than average, but that demonstrates another problem with the one-size-fits-all approach to these fees. They are disproportionately high for even the average EV driver, and even more outrageous when applied to those of us who drive few miles in very light cars (~2,800lbs). A semi tractor trailer, which averages 45,000 miles per year and does ~9,600 times more damage per mile than the average 4,000lb passenger vehicle, would do over 100,000 times more damage to the road than my car per year – considering my car is even lighter than the average passenger vehicle. “9,600x” sounds like a fake number, but this is due to the “fourth power rule” for road damage, where heavier vehicles do exponentially more damage. So if $165 is my “fair share”, then semis should be paying tens of millions of dollars per year for the road damage they do. Obviously this would be ridiculous, so clearly this fee is not related at all to the road damage being done by my vehicle.
So whether you look at this on the basis of cost, energy use, or road damage, these taxes are unreasonable. Further, we should not be actively discouraging new technologies like this by punishing them with disproportionately high taxes. But this is the game the fossil fuel industry is playing. They see the writing on the wall, and they want to exercise their political power to try to stop a new, better technology from gaining a foothold. They want to try to squash a better technology purely out of their own greed. That is why they are pushing for these fees in so many states, not out of a sense of fairness, just out of a sense of short-term greed, even if it’s at the cost of encouraging environmental damage, which hurts all of us.
Those of us who have lived in California for a long time remember “smog days,” where children were encouraged not to go outside because the air was too bad. We remember not being able to see the mountains surrounding Los Angeles because the smog was too thick – mountains which are clearly visible now due to the state’s hard push for cleaner air, making us an example to the world of what can be done with a little focus by a government that cares about the environmental health of its people. And the fossil fuel industry is trying to roll back that progress. We must not let this happen.
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