Virginia’s Governor Proposes Anti-EV Legislation


In some parts of the country, there is a very real and rational discussion about the role electric vehicles will play in transportation, especially when it comes to paying taxes. Without the need to buy gasoline, EVs avoid paying for taxes on the same roads they use. But a proposal by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell would eliminate the gas tax, while levying a $115 a year free on electric and plug-in hybrid drivers. Seriously?

Republican Governor McDonnell claims that the Virginia’s low gas tax of 17.5 cents per gallon, which hasn’t been raised since 1986, does not bring in enough revenue to cover the cost of maintaining the state’s infrastructure. But rather than ask for a higher gas tax, which is arguably the fairest tax of any kind, as how much you pay correlates directly with how much you drive, McDonnell wants to eliminate the gas tax entirely. He would offset this with a higher sales tax, going from 5% to 5.8%.

But what has EV advocates upset is the fact that while regular drivers no longer have to pay a gas tax, the 91,000 EV and hybrid vehicle drivers would be faced with a $100 annual fee, and a $15 registration fee. Diesel fuel will still be taxed at 17.5 cents a gallon to maintain revenue on commercial vehicles. Other states, including Washington, have passed similar fees on EVs and hybrids, but without exempting conventional car drivers from those same taxes.

This plan has been pegged not only as biased, but asinine as well. For one thing, the cost savings are unlikely to be passed on to consumers, as oil companies will simply jack up the price to increase profits. Also, this legislation treats EV and hybrid vehicle owners incredibly unfairly; if the sales tax increase is meant to replace the gas tax, than why would you need to levy a tax against EV or hybrid drivers? Do they not also pay sales tax? The average Virginia driver currently pays around $100 a year in gas taxes, so we don’t understand why EV and hybrid drivers are being singled out.

While you may not like to hear it, we’re also rather opposed to any legislation that artificially lowers the price of gasoline. Oil is a finite resource, and should be treated as such; lowering the price of gasoline only serves to encourage wastefulness. While you may not agree, the fact is that low gas taxes are a direct contributor to the woeful state of America’s infrastructure.

If Bob McDonnell really thinks the gas tax doesn’t bring in enough money (and it doesn’t) the simple solution is to raise the tax, which hasn’t been touched in almost three decades. Get with the times, Bob!

Source: Christian-Science Monitor

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he’s running, because he’s one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • Matt Childress

    “gas tax is at least generally fair in how it’s applied. The more gas you use, the more you pay”

    That makes sense until you examine what the funds generated by the gas tax is used for: road repair.

    Therefore it should be “the more road damage your vehicle does, the more you pay”. But then when you examine road damage, very little of it is actually done by passenger vehicles: it’s all semi-trucks and buses. The typical city bus does over 850 times more road damage per mile than a car. A semi? Upwards of 1000 times more damage per mile.

    If you want to impose an environmental tax on the damage that a gas vehicle does (CO2 tax), then I’m all for it. But don’t try to bend a tax for one thing (road damage) into another (excessive waste/CO2 release).

    A fair road use/road damage tax would be weight-per-axle (ESAL) multiplier times yearly mileage. Many first-world countries already do this (via a sticker program like we use on license plates), and it would be a fair tax across vehicle types and amount of use. It would also highlight how much road damage buses and semi-trucks do to our roads, getting them to move to rail which is much more efficient both in terms of the environment as well as road wear.

    City buses used for public mass transit are especially damning as they’re high-mileage, high damage per mile and when gas prices rise people that would normally drive (and pay into the road repair fund with their gas tax) increase their ridership. This is compounded as most public agencies (mass transit districts) do not pay gas as well as other taxes, so it’s burning the rubber at both ends. The message here is not anti-mass transit, it’s get your high-frequency mass transit routes on electric rail!

    What Causes Road Wear?

    • Jason Carpp

      I agree. If you’re going to use the roads, you might as well pay for it. How else do they expect to maintain a safe roadway or improve on it? It shouldn’t matter what you drive, you still still have to pay for the use.

  • ASG

    Chris – this may be out of date, but there were studies in the 1990s that showed 2 causes for road deterioration/damage – heavy trucking and studded snow tires. The rest of the use was statistically insignificant. That would imply that for infrastructure maintenance we should tax heavy trucking (causing a rise in costs for all goods across the board) and studded snow tires….or change the tax dynamic – payroll taxes for infrastructure; gas taxes for subsidizing public transportation to better align incentives. Either way we slice it, taxing EVs is as I believe you put it asinine.

    • T E

      Well did anyone considered mother nature? Much of the road degradation comes from ground below contracting and precipitation from above. Also when you consider termp changes most roads will fall apart even if no one ever used them.

  • On the other hand, if you want tax on vehicles to reflect their impact on the environment on the “polluter pays” principle, then fuel taxes would have to rise very substantially right across the USA to levels closer to those typical in Europe to around $5 per US gallon!

    The difference in tax between Europe and America is largely responsible for the much better average fuel consumption in Europe than America with average private passenger vehicles travelling around 50% further on a gallon of fuel Europe than America.

  • roger rowe

    What % of of our gas $ goes to a foreign country for oil?
    Whatever the %, this $ is no longer in the US economy.
    If an EV user now has extra $ because they are NOT buying gasoline, they are spending this extra $ in the US economy.
    This movement of $ away from foreign oil and into the US economy will stimulate growth, not retard it. EV owners should get an incentive, not a penalty.
    I wonder if anyone vetts these ideas before they are pushed to the public.

  • Oz

    Gov. Jindal was right, the GOP *is* the stupid party

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  • Rick Chapman

    This is Oil Boys playing desperate moves to keep themselves relevant. I understand the need for extra taxes and the gas needs to reflect the cost of road repair, EV drivers should be included in a State tax for all at a price reflecting the share of road repair which they require as well. If the Gov’t wants, rename the gas tax to Carbon Tax.