Diesel Technology Forum Fighting Virginia’s Higher Diesel Tax

Diesel Technology Forum executives strongly believe Virginia’s diesel tax disparity will be a penalty to diesel car owners.

In a letter to the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates and other members, Diesel Technology Forum Executive Director Allen Schaeffer explained the options now under final consideration will create an unfair and substantial disparity between gasoline and diesel fuel and as a result “directly penalizes Virginians who drive fuel-efficient clean diesel passenger vehicles and is a disincentive to investing in clean diesel cars in the future.”

Members of the Virginia House of Delegates were also informed by Schaeffer that the proposed diesel tax disparity created by the transportation funding package would affect almost 250,000 diesel car and light duty trucks in Virginia by 2020.

“It seems illogical to impose a higher tax at the pump on an increasingly popular technology that is 30 percent more energy efficient and has lower emissions than gasoline, but that is exactly where we’re headed with this plan,” Schaeffer explained in his letter to the delegates. “Diesel fuel is no longer a fuel used only by commercial trucks yet this plan effectively treats it as one and the same, and that price at the pump disparity will discourage consumers from investing in these cleaner more fuel efficient vehicles.”

As it now stands in Virginia, the Conference Report to the Transportation Funding package establishes a 3.5 percent wholesale tax on gasoline and a 6 percent tax on diesel fuel, resulting in a substantial disparity in the price at the pump.

Virginia’s funding scheme seeks to justify the higher diesel tax rate to reflect greater use and damage to roads by diesel-powered commercial trucks.

Schaeffer stressed in his letter that according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, there today there are over 81,000 registered diesel cars and light duty trucks. This number will increase to almost 250,000 registered diesel vehicles in Virginia by 2020 as industry analysts project diesel sales to triple throughout the U.S.

Schaeffer’s letter also highlighted a previous statement about the benefits of clean diesel automobiles from U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood: “If one-third of all vehicles in the USA were already clean diesel vehicles today, we would be saving 1.4 million barrels of oil every day. That’s the same amount of oil we import from Saudi Arabia, so this is a big deal.” Ray LaHood’s statement can be found here.

“Thanks to the tremendous advancements, diesel can no longer be viewed as ‘just a fuel used by commercial truckers’, Schaeffer told the Finance Committee. “Clean diesel vehicles are quickly becoming widely available and popular. Thanks to their inherent energy efficiency, diesel cars and pick-up trucks achieve 20 to 40 percent better fuel economy than a comparable gasoline vehicle and achieve roughly 10 to 20 percent reduction of greenhouse gases along with near zero emissions of smog forming pollutants.”