Save the planet—not the pavement

Va. lawmakers want to eliminate tax to hybrid and electric vehicles

Blog Entry July 08, 2013
Bill Wilson

Bill Wilson is the editorial director of ROADS & BRIDGES magazine and has been covering the industry since 1999. He has won seven Robert F. Boger Awards for editorial excellence, including three in 2011. He also was the creator of the Top 10, Contractor's Choice Awards and Recycling Awards platforms, as well as ROADS & BRIDGES Live.

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So if you do your job in saving the planet you may not get charged to use the Earth’s crust—at least from a motor-vehicle perspective.


It might happen in Virginia. On the first day of a new era in the state, one that involves restructuring the way drivers pay for road and bridge funding, lawmakers were already on the loose in an attempt to erase the $64 charge for those driving hybrid or electric cars. Originally, Gov. Bob McDonnell wanted to charge $100 in an attempt to save the infrastructure system, and his plan is expected to generate billions of dollars over the next few years. But politics got in the way, and in negotiations the reduced fee of $64 got the deal done.


Now state Sen. Adam Ebbin and Del. Scott Surovell want it to be $0, because hybrids and electric vehicles are helping to preserve the green in the region. They do not think the free pass would make much of an impact because, after all, there are just under 92,000 environmentally friendly cars in Virginia and the tax where it stands will only generate $5 million.


I can’t believe lawmakers in Virginia are even giving this proposal floor time. The greenies are still paying less than the gas-guzzlers, right? So they are getting a reward for making some peace with Mother Nature. And, as long as they are driving mechanisms that require four wheels and put some weight and pressure on the roads and bridges, they should pay something for the use and potential damage, right? I guess if these vehicles were weightless—if they hovered above the ground or something—I could see the validity of wiping out any kind of charge. But they don’t, and they should be charged something. Virginia burned a new path here with this tax, and there is a small group who now want to go back and erase the track marks. Their efforts should be shot down quicker than a turkey in November. Those who drive green still pound the pavement with equal magnitude as those that drive not so green, and the number of hybrid and electric cars are only going to multiply over the next five years—so the $5 million they talk about now will easily grow to a more significant number.


Politicians need to do their job in saving the economy, and to do that you need some serious green for infrastructure that has been ignored for far too long.

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