Sierra Club Files Lawsuit Against Oklahoma’s $100 Electric Car Fee

Electric Car


Electric Car

The 2017 Nissan LEAF would be an ideal electric car choice if states like Oklahoma chose a fee based on gross vehicle weight rather than powertrain, and the 2018 Nissan LEAF is coming soon.

Oklahoma hopes to correct a budget shortfall by enacting an electric car fee, but a lawsuit against the state asserts that proper procedures for such a tax were not followed.

Oklahoma’s Sierra Club Chapter isn’t happy about the recent proposed $100 fee for electric vehicles, and an additional $30 registration fee, which won’t be instated for gasoline and diesel engines. Of course, the environmental organization may move to battle anything that gets in the way of EV adoption or fails to note its benefits. Director of the organization’s Oklahoma chapter, Johnson Bridgewater, said in an interview:

“These are tangible benefits that they are completely ignoring.”

However, the truth of the matter is that whether or not the state accounts for the benefits makes no difference legally. Fortunately, the lawsuit actually sheds light on another situation in which lawmakers are proposing such fees without following required protocol.

Electric Car

Beginning in September, the Chevrolet Bolt will be available in all states nationwide (InsideEVs/George B)

Specifically, the proposed $100 fee is a tax. Under state law, a new tax must be supported by a supermajority of state lawmakers. According to the Sierra Club, this process never happened. The fee was simply set without due process.

Republican Governor Mary Fallin signed the bills in May to add the fees as part of a $878-million budget shortfall correction, and in June, the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit to block the bill. Just last week the Oklahoma Supreme Court heard the organization’s arguments. The bill was written by Oklahoma Republican Rep. Dustin Roberts, who failed to respond to Bloomberg for comment.

Gary Richardson, Republican gubernatorial candidate and Tulsa attorney, also provided arguments against the bill to Oklahoma’s Supreme Court last week. He aimed to show that the electric vehicle fee, and two other budget correction bills, don’t follow the state’s legal criteria for adding legislation to raise revenue.

Oklahoma is currently home to 26,600 hybrids, 800 plug-in electric vehicles, and 1,300 low- and medium-speed EVs, according to Bloomberg. If the bill passes, the state will benefit from an additional ~$1 million annually for use on highway construction and maintenance.

Oklahoma citizen and owner of a Nissan Leaf and a hybrid Lincoln, Able Blakley, told Bloomberg:

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

EVs are significantly heavier than their ICE counterparts, so with this formula some electric car owners would likely pay more than those driving comparable ICE cars. However, at least it fairly accounts for every car on the road and makes it an incentive to drive light, more fuel-efficient vehicles or small EVs, instead of gas guzzling pickup trucks and SUVs, or heavy, high-performance vehicles.

Source: Bloomberg

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50 Comments on "Sierra Club Files Lawsuit Against Oklahoma’s $100 Electric Car Fee"

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Good. Because it is a joke that any state is adding such a tax. It’s probably mostly because the gassers get pissed off that people are paying tax at the pump but why should EV’s pay tax they’re not buying petrol ⛽️

I hope they win the lawsuit, then other states can follow because it is completely BS.

You can’t get a free lunch. Most roads are maintained with gas taxes. EVs should be paying money to use the road. I wouldn’t be surprised if most states switch from gas taxes to a flat fee like this once EV penetration gets high enough.

Which would be fair if it didn’t specifically target EVs.

A general tax is fine. The above suggestion of a tax based on gross vehicle weight makes more sense; it’s heavier vehicles that cause more damage to tarmac and asphalt.

Hold on, don’t my federal taxes go towards maintaining interstates? My state taxes maintain state routes. My huge county taxes on my house and cars maintain the local roads. Why am I paying another tax, for something my little Spark EV isn’t even damaging?

I am cool with a small yearly fee for electric vehicles, especially if the tax is a bit higher for heavier vehicles. Between $1p0 and $150 per year would be similar to the amount the owners of gasser pay via the gas tax.

Most states dump gas taxes and electricity taxes into their “general fund.” So, the state is getting there money when I charge. An additional tax is just anti-EV.

Depends on the state. This one seems pretty obvious since they didn’t follow protocol. Others (e.g. CA) might not be so easy because they did follow the proper procedures.

Fee vs tax is just semantics. Many “fees” you pay bring no direct benefit to you, just like taxes. Just by calling it a fee, they can raise it without any vote, and that’s what they do. For CA, rural fire “fee” is an example of this; no direct benefit, yet must pay or lose your home.

Another interesting thing is “Republican gubernatorial candidate” is fighting this alongside Sierra Club. Traditional Republicans would be fighting it (tax), not the masses of Republiturds and Republitards we have these days.

The fire tax is not rural, it applies to any area at the edge of any city that borders national forests or parks…basically areas with increased fire danger. I know, I’m paying that on 2 properties.

Me and none of my neighbors border national forest; we are miles away, yet we must pay. Petitioning does nothing other than waste money on stamps.

As for “fire danger”, one’s likely to get into awful traffic and polluted air without traffic lights, yet there’s no “traffic light fee” in cities. In fact, even for fires, there are far more in cities than rural.

No, it’s not about tax vs fee. It’s all the same, they just choose to call it a fee on a whim if they think they can get away with it. For fire tax, they are getting away with it, and we are screwed every year.

Perhaps you’d be happier living in a country where they use the Roman Empire model of fire fighting. That is, use private fire fighting companies who only put out a fire if the home owner pays them. Otherwise, they just stand around and watch it burn, only intervening if it threatens to spread to other buildings which they are paid to protect.

Oddly enough, I don’t think that any country in the modern world uses that arrangement.

Why is that, do you suppose, Sparky? 🙄

* * * * *

Personally, I’m glad I live in a country where taxes are used to fund fighting all fires affecting homes and other buildings, regardless of who owns them. Not just some of them.

Some use private firefighting service. They saved homes during the wild fires in San Diego when state owned fire fighters were too busy. But even if we have private fire fighters, we are still required to pay the state more than city dwellers.

If you like the fee that’s selectively higher for some, go ahead and pay the entire state’s fire fighting fee yourself. I’m sure that’ll make you happy.

Private fire companies were the norm in America until the 1880’s. You can still see fire company placards on old homes in Philadelphia. Or you could 30 years ago. The Dalmatians guard dogs were used to keep rival fire companies away from each companies equipment.

Not anymore, the cap-and-trade deal ended it.

Politicians aside, there’s actually a well established difference in meaning.
Fee == payment for a specific service, which usually is intended to be just high enough to cover the cost of the service, but not a general source of revenue or profit. The actual amount is usually fixed, and not a % of some transaction.

Tax == Mandatory payment, not for a specific service, and frequently not earmarked for a specific use but levied by a government as a general-purpose revenue source. Pretty much always set at a % .

In case of rural fire fee, there is no specific service. They supposedly increase fire service for rural areas, but nothing specific that the homeowner benefit. This is why I make the analogy to traffic light fee (or absence of) in cities.

But more broadly, if the specific service is mandatory, that’s a tax, not a fee. Try not paying the fire tax (or fee), and they will take your house. If there’s traffic light fee, not paying it could prevent you from leaving the house or having anything delivered since all traffic (foot or car) benefit from traffic lights.

Pretty soon, we’re going to have “fees” for breathing and zero taxes. Why even bother with taxes when they are so cumbersome and require voting when fees are so simple to raise.

So says the libertariantard.

Government’s services are broad and all-encompassing like the streets we drive on, the protection we get from police and fire and military, our food and drug safety, etc, etc etc.

You don’t like it then move.

Protection we get from the military? To the tune of more than $650B, more than the next 8 countries combined? You libtards really need to think about where your tax money is going and the wasteful spending even on “public good” stuff.

US didn’t have such high taxes and constantly meddle in other countries nor did the government treat people like criminals by garnishing their wages (guilty, never innocent!). In fact US gained independence from England over tax issue. Yes, it’s the tax issue, not the vote issue. They had no complaints of not voting before the stamp tax.

If you don’t like the fundamental principle of the country, it’s the libtards that should move. I often hear how US should follow Scandinavian countries’ high tax policies; move there if you like taxes so much instead of forcing me to pay for even more bombs.

As for moving, there’s nowhere on earth where we can enjoy the freedoms (or what we have left) as the US. Even if I wanted to move, there’s nowhere to go. Only thing I can do is try improve here.

But North Korea has high taxes, free medical care, squealing “offensive speech”, all the stuff that socialist libtard would want. You should move there.

Yeah right, you are so wanting to improve things here that you voted for the Trumpster.

Your solutions leave a lot to be desired.

You insinuating that I voted for that Dump is highly offensive. Who do you think I am, a Socialist?

It is you who would’ve voted for Dump if he ran under Democrat ticket. His policies are just like socialist “public-private partnership”. You agree with Dump on policies, you just don’t like the animal he’s under.

No, I think your a (useful to the right wing-nuts) idiot.

Your Breitbart logic and the fact that you voted for Trump and other idiot right wing politicians says all we need to know about you–you are beyond redemption.

Trump and most of the Republican Party are largely financially supported by a few libertarian billionairs like the Mercer family and the Koch Heads who are mainly interested in perpetuating their business’ at our expense:

Despite your constant misdirection your astounding lack of logic doesn’t impress me.

Your blatantly false assertions like “Somalia is a socialist paradise” rival the blatant lies and “alternative facts” that Trump and useful idiots like you tell daily.

You and others

By the way, here’s a video by one of the most famous Libertarian on what he thinks of Dump. You really need to educate yourself outside of your North Korea worship.

Sparky, you should move to one of the areas of Somalia where there aren’t any taxes because the government doesn’t control the area. Of course, you’d have to pay protection money to the local warlord or get your legs broken (or worse), but hey, that’s private enterprise, so not an “evil” tax, right?

Seriously, I’d love to see your reaction to living for a few months in an area where there are no public services paid for by taxes, since that seems to be what you have convinced yourself that’s actually what you want.

Somalia is actually socialist paradise, because they operate just like socialism: no private property rights, thugs running things, constant war and killing people with all the excess funds, locals suffering, politicians getting rich. Why would I want to move to another socialist paradise?

But if you want to pay lots of taxes and lack of property rights and lack of freedom, you who should move to Somalia.

Never have I said we should have zero taxes. Protection of private property cannot come for free. Free charging SUCKS! But what we have in US is way too much taxes, so much so that all the excess go to dropping bombs in other countries, just like what Somalian warlord would do.

Here in Missouri we have an “alternative fuels tax” for vehicles that don’t use gasoline. On the one hand, I can see the argument that EVs use the same roads as everyone else, but don’t pay for them in gasoline taxes. On the other hand, the electricity we use to charge is already taxed; if they want to use fuel taxes to pay for roads, they ought to take the EV drivers’ share out of that.

Yes, they keep forgetting those taxes on every electric bill. Whose relationship to actual services is not explained.

In reality what would be an appropriate road tax? EV driversuse the road too, so we should be paying something too. Has anyone calculated what the average driver pays in gas tax?

Very good question. Yes I have, and here’s what I wrote up on it a couple months ago:

Roads need to be funded somehow. Personally I don’t think now it’s already necessary, since there’s not many EVs on the road in most states, but something like California is doing is the way to go. They enacted legislation that sets a date (somewhere around 2020 I think) when a registration fee will start to be charged for EVs. This is best, because eventually there needs to be a fee for EVs, and it’s best IMO if it can be a fee that’s anticipated in advance. Planned if you will.

A $200 fee is actually not too far out. Consider this:

400 gallons per year (12,000 miles divided by 30 MPG) times $0.50 a gallon fuel tax is $200.

The average number of miles driven per year in the U.S. is 13,476.

This is from Wikipedia:

On average, as of January 2017, state and local taxes and fees add 31.04 cents to gasoline and 31.01 cents to diesel, for a total US average fuel tax of 49.44 cents per gallon for gas and 55.41 cents per gallon for diesel.[3]

Except that either a fixed fee is correct and _everybody_ should pay it, or a fixed fee is incorrect and they need use weight-mile to provide an fix it so that everybody pays the fee.

Oregon seems to be moving in the 1st direction by adding a fee that increases in bands as mpg improves. But note that Oregon has weight-mile fees for heavy vehicles.


“… an equivalent to fuel taxes for PEVs.”

“…Oregon has weight-mile fees for heavy vehicles.”

So far as I know, all States impose road use fees for heavy trucks; semis and the like.

Makes sense, since it’s said that heavy trucks cause about 90% of the damage to roads. And they also say that their road use fees fall far short of the damage they inflict. That’s one of the ways that our country subsidizes freight trucking over railroads, to the detriment of the railroads.

Sure, absolute fairness would require indexing the vehicle weight versus annual miles to asses absolutely fair road use taxes. But given that light vehicles cause so little of the damage to public roads, I question that it’s worth all the additional paperwork and time spent doing data entry, to note the difference between (for example) a 5377 lb. Tesla Model X vs. a 2094 lb. Smart Fortwo Electric Drive.

“Has anyone calculated what the average driver pays in gas tax?”

Yeah, I have. Totaling both Federal and State tax, and taking into account the average distance driven by the average American taxpayer, as well as the MPG of the average American car, I figured ~$195 per year.

But I’d far rather see road use fees be based on individual mileage. That way, those who actually use the roads more would pay more. In some States you have to get your car inspected every year; adding an odometer check doesn’t seem to be an onerous burden. In other States, we’d have to rely on taxpayers self-reporting their odometer mileage when they renew their license tags.

But I don’t expect to see such a fair assessment of road use taxes become reality. That would make too much sense for a bureaucracy!

In Virginia we are charged $64? a year which is based on the average motorist getting 25 mpg for 12,000 miles a year. Fair enough IMHO. We got rid of our Leaf and got a Volt so we don’t have to pay anything for the Volt. Which is odd since I used 7.7 gallons of gasoline last year.

How did Oklahoma get $878,000,000 into the hole in the first place? Maybe by cutting taxes to businesses like (bankrupt) Kansas on the false premise that business won’t just take their extra profits somewhere else? Or betting on frackers to create enough jobs to offset looking the other way at the messes they make?

I wonder how much those fracking earthquakes have cost everyone in Oklahoma.

Yep, Oklahoma and Kansas’ disasterous attmpts to implement libertarian policies is something a libertariantard like SparkEv will never admit since it doesn’t support his Breitbart/Libertarian preconceived notions of how the real world works.

High taxes is Libertarian? That’s news to me.

Libertarian means “Liberty” as in freedom. People who want to be oppressed will never know what it means.

I don’t know if your just playing stupid but here you go on what happened when other Libertariantards cut taxes in Kansas:

And Oklahoma’s ongoing implosion:

So in the real world this is what happens when the Tea Baggers with the help of usefull idiots like yourself take political control.

No thanks.

I don’t at all support Get Real’s use of the pejorative “libertariantard”, but as a resident of the Great State of Kansas, I will certainly confirm he’s right about our insanely hard-right wingnut governor in cutting taxes so much that we don’t even have enough to support public schools, let alone properly supporting critical public infrastructure such as roads and bridges.

Our governor and his literally insane fiscal policies have made the State of Kansas a national disgrace. I found it quite shocking that he managed to get re-elected. When the subject comes up, even my conservative friends living in this State have nothing good to say about Brownback.

Well, as they say: People deserve the government they get. Apparently all too many voters in my State are just as fiscally irresponsible as our governor is. 🙁

CA has the highest tax rate in US, yet we rank bottom 10th in education (mercury news). Kansas ranks in top 15. If taxes are the only reason, it’s evidence that we should cut more taxes for better education. Obviously, that isn’t the case for something as complex as education, but following your simple minded logic will lead to that conclusion.

More importantly, you bringing it up shows how quick you are to blame Libertarians to scape goat, even if things are better, just like National Socialist blaming a group of people.

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before, but since you’re so eager to move, why don’t you move to Socialist paradise North Korea where they take all your stuff and give you free medical care, and I’ll move to Kansas. Maybe I’ll meet PuPu there and show him how awesome SparkEV is.

Thake you fing political rants to the yahoo boards! No one is interested to hear them here.

A news story about a lawsuit against a fee seems like a reasonable place to discuss taxation. Maybe we should remember things that we can agree on. Lots of reasonable people hate the government and want to decrease its power by decreasing its funding.

The corruption exists because of government’s extreme power. If you don’t think the government is corrupt, then you need to open your eyes.

Feeling this way does not make you a Trump supporter (hardly!). It also doesn’t make you selfish, greedy or somehow not concerned with the environment.

I certainly hope the Sierra Club succeeds with this lawsuit, but it’s a tragedy that any activists have to use a legal technicality to fight the very premature trend of States imposing road use fees on EVs which are not imposed on gasmobiles.

There will come a time in which it’s appropriate for States to figure out some way to recover the lost revenue from taxes on retail gasoline sales. That time is not when States are still providing incentives to help promote sales of PEVs (Plug-in EVs), or when PEV sales are only 1-2% of total new car sales.

Maybe when PEV sales get up to, let’s say, something like 7-8% of new car sales, then it might be appropriate to impose road use taxes. Until then, it looks like just another example of bribery lobbying by State auto dealer associations. 🙁

This is a complete farce.

As we all know, hardly any plug-in hybrid drivers ever plug in. So those vehicles and non-plug-in hybrid vehicles will be paying their contribution to road maintenance like any other vehicle driver does ie in gas tax. Which leaves a piddling number of *real* EVs (and I don’t mean invalid carriages of one form or another or golf carts).

Besides that, where is the logic in providing a tax rebate to encourage EV take-up (again, InsideEVs, I am talking about *real* EVs here so that your readers don’t get confused by your continued muddle-headed attitude towards describing a car’s drive train – an EV doesn’t have an exhaust pipe… remember?!) and then demanding a paltry £100 back again as a ‘tax’ for owning one?

Of course, if Oklahoma doesn’t offer incentives to own EVs, that speaks volumes for the vision of its government and, of course, means that such a tax as is the subject of this article makes perfect sense!

LOL. “As we all know”….
Fox News lied to you again.
Most of these plugins have more power and a better driving experience when you’re in EV mode. So, no, we all don’t know, and there’s no evidence of hybrid/EVs not plugging in.
Because if you don’t plug in an EV it doesn’t go anywhere.

And there’s still a Gas Glut on the market, meaning hybrids, plugins and EV’s are CAPPING the Price of Gas you’re currently buying, by lowering demand. Note, they shut down refineries and there’s no gas spike because there’s sufficient supply.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

LOL, this place cracks me up on how political we all get. 🙂

A lot of good ideas though on how to “Tax” for road use and repair services.
There’s one demographics that really hasn’t been brought up. It’s the older generation that rarely drives.
If it’s a flat fee then they’re paying way too much for their road use.

It should be done this way:

Road taxes = GVWR x Annual miles driven x State coefficient.

This way, every vehicle pays its fair share, and pump prices can go way down.

In an era of rising CAFE standards, hybrids, and EVs, gas pump taxes are an endless chase in futility.

Even my state – Pennsylvania – with the highest gas tax in the country, doesn’t receive enough from the pump tax.

You have to consider equivalence. Gassers do more harm than just the road, and they don’t have to pay the electric tax, not to mention all the wars we fight to keep the oil flowing.

How about if we take some of the middle east war fund for EV road use? That will be enough to cover all the EV and more.

As of July my state (TN) is making the following changes.

Electric vehicles: new $100 registration fee in addition to standard registration fee.

Adds a 6-cent on each gallon of gasoline

Adds 10 cents on each gallon of diesel.

I question if $100 registration is a bit high compared to gas taxes especially since I will be pay taxes on my KWh for charging as well. However, it isn’t as bad as some states or area are charging and it is a nice round number.