Fee on hybrid cars

To the Editor:

Regarding LD 1803, An Act To Ensure Equity in the Funding of Maine’s Transportation Infrastructure by Imposing an Annual Fee on Hybrid and Electric Vehicles, currently being considered in the state Legislature, I fail to see any equity or long-term solutions in this bill and request that citizens encourage their representatives to vote “no” against it.

I have an electric vehicle and a hybrid and am concerned about the $400 in fees on top of the excise tax I already pay to my town. The Legislature needs to take a more comprehensive, long-range approach to funding infrastructure.

Please also encourage legislators to craft legislation that protects and improves air quality in Maine’s cities and countryside. This bill hurts air quality by disincentivizing EV and hybrid vehicle sales and provides no vision for the future of transportation in the state. It does nothing to free us from our dependence on fossil fuels and does little to fund highway maintenance, as EVs make up only one percent of vehicles on the road in Maine.

LD 1806 is a small-minded and lazy bill. I understand the argument that EVs do not pay gas tax and therefore use the road for free. If one limits their thinking to that rationale, the new fees might make sense. The bill makes no sense for hybrid vehicles which do pay gas tax, and the fee amounts are arbitrary.

Equity? EVs and hybrids don’t put nearly the amount of particulate into the air the way diesel engines do. There is plenty of science behind the link between carbon particulate and lung disease. I would argue that one unregulated diesel engine causes more than $250 in potential health damage to the people in our state. How about taxing old, polluting diesel engines encouraging modernization instead of providing a disincentive for EVs and hybrids?

If a fee of $250 were assigned to old diesels, that would be more equitable because of the human health and environmental damage they cause. It would also generate significant revenue. What is the environmental cost of carbon particulate? Climate change is real. And no one is fighting an oil war overseas to fill up my tank. Clearly, these considerations are not addressed in this bill.

Most cars are getting higher mileage. If highways need to be repaired and there is no money, maybe the gas and diesel tax needs to be reviewed? Any current shortfall is not the fault of EVs and hybrids but the failure of past legislatures to address the actual problems of infrastructure finance.

The proposed legislation is a cash grab, plain and simple. It would take money that would otherwise go back into the economy or into a savings, health or retirement account. As for public health and the environment, what needs to happen is to require higher mileage of light trucks and get the old diesel engines off the road and off the job site, especially in urban areas.

The hearing for LD 1806, the governor’s bill taxing hybrids and electric vehicles, has been scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 13, at 1 p.m. in Room 126 of the Maine State House.

Gordon Longsworth



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