Sierra Club Fighting Hybrid and EV Fees in Oklahoma

The Sierra Club has sued the state of Oklahoma to block a proposed fee on electric vehicles, and spoke to judges about removing a recently adopted hybrid vehicle fee.

The environmental group filed suit yesterday to block the proposed $100 EV fee that the state legislature is considering as it looks for ways to fill a $878 million budget shortfall.

In a separate case, Sierra Club made arguments Tuesday to the state’s Supreme Court against a bill signed into law in May adding a $30 registration fee for hybrid vehicles.

The director of Sierra Club’s Oklahoma chapter is making the legal argument that the fee ends up being a new tax, which would be required by state law to reach a supermajority of state lawmakers to be enacted. That never happened, Johnson Bridgewater said.

Another part of the argument Sierra Club made is that the fee was set arbitrarily without considering its real purpose, such as protecting residents form pollution-related deaths.

“These are tangible benefits that they are completely ignoring,” Bridgewater said.

Fees, if enacted by the state, would apply to future purchases of hybrids and EVs, and to those already owned and registered in the state. That would apply to owners of about 26,600 hybrids, 800 plug-in vehicles, and 1,300 low- and medium-speed EVs, according to analysis by state lawmakers.

The bill would raise about $1 million per year, and would help fund highway construction and maintenance.

It would be similar to EV fees and taxes that, as of a year ago, had been put into effect by 10 others states across the country.

SEE ALSO: 10 States That Charge Extra Fees On Plug-in Cars

EV advocates usually make the argument that the reasons for the bill don’t fit into state policies, and that gasoline and diesel engine vehicles are being excluded from the fees.

The fees and taxes are typically seen by legislators as a revenue stream to partially offset budget deficits.

The hybrid and proposed EV fees don’t make much sense for Able Blakley, an Oklahoma resident. He and his wife drive a Nissan Leaf and a hybrid Lincoln.

“If they really want to create more revenue for building roads, they should charge a fee based on gross vehicle weight,” Blakley said in a phone interview Tuesday. “But this is Oklahoma, where everybody drives a big pickup truck.”


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