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Ohio lawmakers consider incentives for electric cars and other alternatives
Environmentalists are pushing for more

Andy Chow
Ohio lawmakers are considering incentrives for electric and natural-gas-powered vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Volt.
Courtesy of GM
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In the battle against pollution, environmental activists see carbon emitting cars and trucks as major enemies. A new study suggests that electric vehicles can make a drastic difference. 

Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports on the push for tax credits and other incentives.

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 With a growing number of electric vehicles on the road, America is on its way to eliminating a huge amount of climate-changing pollution. That’s according to a report released by Environment Ohio, which says adding more electric vehicles would be equivalent to taking 78,000 carbon emitting trucks and cars off the road by 2025. 

Bringing down the costs
The group’s Nate Lotze says Ohio could follow the lead of other states that have implemented policies to encourage electric vehicle use. 

“Georgia, for example, offers up to a $5,000 tax credit. Washington state offers sales-tax exemptions. And the bill sponsored by Rep. O’Brien would also offer financial incentives to own and drive these cars.” 

Democratic Rep.Sean O’Brien of Hubbard says his bill will utlimately make the electric vehicles and cars that run on compressed natural gas more affordable to more Ohioans.

“That’s one of the biggest drawbacks — especially with compressed natural gas -- is the price of the vehicle and the conversion kit. What we’re trying to do here is get that cost down.”

What about the highway fund?
O’Brien’s bill passed the Republican-dominated House unanimously. While policymakers are trying to encourage the purchase of electric, CNG and other fuel-efficient cars, the U.S. Department of Transportation is working on a different problem.

The Highway Trust Fund running out of money. Much of the money is directed back to the states for road construction, and it comes from the gas tax. If more people own lternative vehicles, people would pay less in gas taxes, which would mean even less money for the Highway Trust Fund. O’Brien says his bill includes a tax on CNG vehicles.

“We feel that if a vehicle’s on the road it should pay for the infrastructure as well as everyone else.”

When it comes to electric vehicles, Cynthia Maves with Clean Fuels Ohio says other states have come up with new fees that would make up the difference of lost revenue. 

“Virginia has put in place a certain amount of dollars — I think it’s $100 that they’re taxing the electric vehicles. Oregon is right now developing a pilot project where they’re using vehicle miles traveled to charge the non-petroleum fueled cars accordingly.” 

In the report, Environment Ohio includes a call for the state to implement a Zero Emission Vehicle program, which requires automakers to sell more electric cars.




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