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