Nov 15 2023
“If anyone should be paying into federal road repair, it should be EV users.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, spoke on the Senate floor this week about the need to end electric vehicle (EV) freeloading and secure continued funding for America’s infrastructure.
In her remarks, Senator Fischer noted that the Highway Trust Fund, which maintains U.S.infrastructure, will run out of money in the next few years. The current funding structure does not consider EVs and only generates revenue from gas-powered vehicles. This places an unnecessary burden on gas-powered vehicles and limits the funding available to modernize and upgrade U.S. infrastructure.
Senator Fischer’s Stop EV Freeloading Act would help address the fund’s impending insolvency by requiring EVs to contribute to the Highway Trust Fund, leveling the playing field for all drivers. Senator Fischer’s weekly column on the legislation can be found here.
Following is a transcript of Senator Fischer’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
As Americans in 2023, there’s plenty we disagree on. But last week, USA Today released a new study on something we can all agree to hate.
The study ranked all 50 states based on how many potholes cover their roads. It also included that the average car repair after a tussle with a pothole costs over $400.
That’s a lot of money for Americans to pay unexpectedly after a road incident.
And unfortunately, our pothole problem is about to get much worse.
For the past 67 years, the Highway Trust Fund has largely funded road maintenance across our nation. The Fund repairs wear and tear from vehicles on the highway.
That’s critical for our roads, for our infrastructure, and for our transportation.
But the Highway Trust Fund is running on empty. It’s projected to run out of money in the next few years.
The insolvency of the Fund would necessitate a total restructuring of our highway repair system. And it would throw our national infrastructure under the bus.
So how do we prevent this from happening?
The main source of revenue for the fund is the federal gas tax, a user fee. The money drivers pay in taxes when they fill up with gas automatically goes toward road construction. But as a smaller percentage of vehicles fill up with gas, a smaller amount of money goes to the Highway Trust Fund.
The use of electric vehicles, or EVs, has shot up in the past several years. Of course, EVs don’t use gas. Since they don’t fill up with gas, they don’t pay the gas tax — and they don’t pay into the Highway Trust Fund.
As more EVs have been adopted, the fund has become more unstable. It’s not receiving the same revenue as it used to. According to Deloitte, U.S. adoption of EVs will increase to 30 percent of new car sales by 2030. So that’s 30 percent of new car drivers not paying into the fund.
But if anyone should be paying into federal road repair, it should be EV users.
EVs can be up to three times heavier than gas-powered cars due to their large batteries. This significant weight puts extra stress onto our roads — it pulverizes the road bed, causing more maintenance, more upgrades, and more costs.
The Highway Trust Fund exists to fix exactly the type of damage that these heavy EVs can cause — so it’s only fair that all highway users, both gas-powered and electric vehicles, pay into the fund.
My recent bill, the Stop EV Freeloading Act, would fix this discrepancy. This new legislation would require EVs to contribute to the Highway Trust Fund through a two-tier fee structure.
The first tier corresponds to the federal gas tax. Under my bill, buyers would pay a one-time $1,000 fee on EVs at the point of sale. That money would contribute to the Highway Trust Fund.
This $1,000 fee equals the average amount consumers currently contribute to the fund from gas taxes over 10 years. Ten years is the average lifespan of an EV battery. The fee would tax EVs the same amount once that gas-powered cars pay over the lifespan of an EV battery.
The second tier corresponds to the heavy vehicle use tax, which also contributes to the Highway Trust Fund.
Under my legislation, manufactures would pay a one-time fee of $550 on each EV battery module with a weight greater than 1,000 pounds. The average EV battery weight is a little less than 1,000 pounds, so taxing those heavier than average would ensure that the Highway Trust Fund has enough money to cover any damage these vehicles inflict on highways.
The $550 tax is comparable to the fees imposed on heavy trucks because of the additional stress they cause to roads and bridges.
The current structure of the Highway Trust Fund doesn’t account for the damage EVs can and do cause to our roads — and it’s only fair that EVs and gas-powered vehicles pay the same fees.
Both types of vehicles should contribute to the fund for vital repairs and maintenance. And ultimately, the changes included in the Stop EV Freeloading Act would help the fund escape its impending insolvency.
Right now, the Highway Trust Fund is losing to the EV industry. That means our roads are going to lose to heavy electric vehicles. And when our infrastructure starts deteriorating, the American people pay the price.
My bill will stop that from happening. Let’s put gas-powered vehicles and electric vehicles on a level playing field — that’s the only way we all win.
Thank you, M. President, I yield the floor.
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