States are quickly learning that promoting electric cars is coming with a high price tag. Colorado has joined a growing number of states that are imposing fees on electric and alternative vehicles to recover “lost” gas tax revenues.
As of this year, Coloradans driving electric, alternative fuel and high-efficiency vehicles will pay a $50 registration fee to capture more revenue from vehicles that use less traditional gasoline. This is part of a growing trend by which states are looking to recoup declining gas tax revenues as vehicles become more fuel efficient and drivers buy more electric vehicles.
Colorado is one of at least five states that have special fees on hybrid and electric vehicles — Colorado, Nebraska, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington. Earlier this year, Oregon lawmakers were discussing a bill that would impose a fee on electric cars and those getting 55 miles per gallon or better. The bill is still sitting in the state legislature.
“States are increasingly looking at how to recoup ‘lost’ gas tax revenues for electric and hybrid vehicles. In addition to fees on such vehicles, many states tax alternative fuels, sometimes including electricity,” Jaime Rall, senior transportation policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email.
The problem state lawmakers face is that the value of the gas tax is falling due to inflation and rising construction costs. This is coupled with the fact that gasoline consumption is falling. According to the Energy Information Administration, U.S. drivers and businesses used about 133 billion gallons which is 6 percent below 2007’s record-high consumption levels.
The Department of Transportation is proposing new regulations that would require hybrid and electric cars to make more noise when their engines are running.
The rules are designed to make it easier for pedestrians to hear the quiet automobiles when they are approaching.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the change would make it easier for hybrid and electric car drivers to share the road.
“Safety is our highest priority, and this proposal will help keep everyone using our nation’s streets and roadways safe, whether they are motorists, bicyclists or pedestrians, and especially the blind and visually impaired,” LaHood said in a statement released by the Transportation Department.
Under the requirement, cars would be required to be heard above typical street noises when they are traveling at speeds less than 18 miles per hour.