The Wasatch front has some of the worst air quality in the nation — and certain members in the Utah Legislature seem determined to make it even worse.
Their latest scheme is to increase the annual fees for electric and hybrid vehicles. For an electric car, fees would jump from $120 to $300, for a plug-in electric, $52 to $260.
If these fees slow down the adoption of zero-emissions vehicles, it will only make a bad pollution problem worse.
Transportation is the leading source of air pollution in our state and the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country. This pollution has a direct impact on public health: According to Western Resource Advocates, air pollution on the Wasatch Front is causing 1,400 to 2,000 premature deaths a year. Children and the elderly are the most impacted, forced to stay indoors as bad air days become all the more common.
Incentivizing the purchase of electric vehicles is one of the most effective ways we can cut back on this pollution. When all our cars, trucks and buses are electric, and we’ve moved over to 100% renewable energy, we’ll be able to say goodbye to the inversion, the bad air days, the terrible health impacts caused by pollution.
Our politicians should be doing everything they can to make that day come as soon as possible. Instead, with bills like this one — and other similar measures that go after rooftop solar — they’re condemning us to more bad air days and dangerous health impacts. It’s up to us voters, who consistently rank air quality as a top concern, to hold them accountable. If this bill passes, the electric vehicle fees shouldn’t go to road maintenance, but to purchasing more inhalers: we’re going to need them.
Jamie Henn, Salt Lake City