- The Sierra Club filed a state lawsuit in Oklahoma Aug. 8, challenging legislation passed earlier this year to institute new fees on zero- or low-emission vehicles in an effort to shore up the state's finances.
- Gov. Mary Fallin (R) signed House Bill 1449 in May, levying a $100 fee on the purchase of an electric vehicle and $30 on a hybrid. The state is trying to reduce a budget shortfall of almost $900 million.
- The environmental group's lawsuit is not the only challenge to the new fees; Bloomberg notes separate legal action was filed in June, and the state’s Supreme Court heard arguments this week.
Oklahoma’s Board of Equalization confirmed the budget shortfall earlier this year, leading to a series of new proposed taxes aiming to shore up the deficit. Fallin has indicated she's not willing to cut services to the tune of almost $1 billion, and so in addition to trimming the budget, the state has been looking for new sources of revenue.
But according to the Sierra Club, the new clean energy vehicle fees were passed "without justification," and do not take into account the wide benefits electric vehicles bring to the roads.
“With no rhyme or reason behind the legislation, the arbitrary fee has no connection to the actual costs and benefits of electric vehicles," said Johnson Bridgewater, the Sierra Club Oklahoma chapter director. "In fact, it requires electric vehicle drivers to pay more than they would in gas taxes."
Bridgewater, in a statement, said there are "clear signs that the car industry is poised to go electric quickly," and added that the switch is particularly needed in Oklahoma where emissions and clean air are a problem. "Unfortunately, this fee will pump the brakes on clean transportation," he said.
Brought by Tulsa attorney Gary Richardson, the earlier lawsuit argues that the new fees do not meet Oklahoma's requirements for raising revenue.
According to an analysis by lawmakers, the fees could bring in about $1 million annually to the state's coffers.