Texas may be making moves that could interrupt EV adoption. The Dallas Morning News reports that the state is currently proposing making EV owners pay a $200 annual fee to cover their share of highway costs. The bill has many supporters and a few against it.
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Under bill SB 505, which has already passed the Texas State House, EV owners in the Lone Star State would pay $200 annually in vehicle registration fees; it seems to be implied that this fee would be in addition to a vehicle’s existing registration fees. The bill’s authors and backers say that the fee is for EV owners to pay their share of highway costs, something that drivers of gas vehicles already do through a gas tax they argue.
Some of the bill’s backers, like Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Robert Nichols, who’s also the bill’s author, said gas taxes pay for a large portion of the state roads. Currently, Texas’ fuel tax on both gas and diesel is 20 cents/gallon. These taxes do bring in a large amount of revenue, some $3.5 billion at last count. “We’re trying to come up with a way to help capture some of that road usage from EVs, especially since there’s been such a push for EVs and we’re seeing a lot more,” said the director of Texans Uniting for Freedom and Reform, a group in favor of the bill.
Not everyone is buying the reasoning for fees on EVs, though. Some experts say the fees will slow EV adoption, calling them “punitive.” Others like Dylan Jaff, Consumer Reports’ sustainability policy analyst, have a much different view.
“The primary cause of the road funding shortfall in Texas has nothing to do with EVs, but rather with the fact that Texas has not increased their gas tax since 1991,” Jaff said. A Consumer Reports study found that through the bill, an EV owner could find themselves paying just as much as the owner of a gas guzzling SUV. Executive director of Environment Texas Luke Metzger pointed this out.
If there’s a $200 fee, the driver of a Nissan LEAF, which is efficient, might be paying as much as a driver of a gas-powered Hummer, which is ridiculous. Really, the driver of a Nissan LEAF is providing great benefits to the state of Texas in terms of cleaner air, and has much less impact on the road than a Hummer. But they’d be paying the same fee.