Electric cars, hybrid cars and vehicles powered by natural gas would pay dramatically higher registration fees under a bill in the Utah State Senate. Republican Senator Wayne Harper of West Jordan says vehicles that don’t use gasoline or diesel fuel need to pay their fair share to maintain Utah’s roads.
“An average car in the state of Utah drives about 12-thousand-400 miles a year, gets about 25-point-4 miles per gallon and pays 120-dollars in motor fuel tax," Harper tells KUER. "An electric vehicle, a propane vehicle drive, who knows how many miles, but they pay zero towards the maintenance of the roads they’re driving on.”
Senate Bill 139 would raise the registration fees from 43 dollars to 133 dollars for vehicle powered by natural gas, 138 dollars for an electric vehicle and 163 dollars for a hybrid electric.
Environmental groups reacted strongly to the proposal, saying it gets in the way of efforts to improve Utah’s air quality. Matt Pacenza is with HEAL Utah.
“It really does feel like this is going against the grain and flying in the face of all these other efforts," Pacenza says. "So, given that, we’re hopeful that legislative leadership and the governor’s office will send strong signals that this is a bad bill at the wrong time.”
Senator Harper says his bill is a companion to another measure in the House that would provide a 25-hundred dollar income tax credit for buyers of electric vehicles. SB-139 is not yet scheduled for a committee hearing.
KUER's Judy Fahys contributed to this story.