Backwards Bill Would Deter People From Purchasing Electric Vehicles

The North Dakota Legislature wants to deter people from purchasing electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids. It’s a bad idea.

Let’s Call These Proposed “Road-Use Fees” What They Really Are

They’ve got it backwards.

Six North Dakota legislators have introduced a bill that, if it becomes law, will rebuke North Dakotans who want to purchase more fuel-efficient vehicles. SB 2061 would impose an annual electric vehicle (EV) “road-use fee” of $248 per year and $71 for hybrids.

Image of ND Senate Bill 2061, 2019, which would impose impose a $248/year "road-use fee" on electric vehicles

Bill supporters say it’s about fairness.

Gas taxes pay for construction and maintenance of roads and bridges, they say. Since EV owners do not buy gas, they should pay some other way. Otherwise, funding for transportation infrastructure takes a hit.

The state gas tax is $0.23 cents/gallon. The average American vehicle consumes 500 gallons of fuel per year. Given that, the typical North Dakota vehicle owner pays $115 in state gas tax annually. However, bill backers also want to collect the federal share of 18.4 cents, which brings the yearly gas tax to $207. That’s $41 less than the EV tax being proposed.

Since when does the state impose what amounts to a federal tax? And why the discrepancy?

The suggestion of a significant loss to state coffers is also a stretch.

A Drive Electric Minnesota analysis comparing gas and EVs “… found that the total amount paid by EV owners through the MVST (motor vehicle sales tax) and annual registration fees more than makes up for any loss of government revenue from the lack of gasoline fill-ups.”

Any funding reduction is miniscule, anyway; very few North Dakotans own EVs or hybrids. Rather than putting a dent in the need for infrastructure funding, these taxes would glance off without so much as a scratch.

So let’s call these proposed fees what they really are – taxes discouraging people from purchasing EVs and hybrids and penalizing anyone who already owns one.

North Dakota lawmakers are following counterparts in other states in introducing EV tax bills, which are supported by the right-wing nonprofit American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). According to ProPublica, ALEC brings together “state legislators and corporate representatives to produce business-friendly ‘model’ legislation.” In November, ALEC adopted a resolution calling for “equal tax treatment for all vehicles.”

Now there’s a tidy euphemism for “deterring expansion of EV adoption and sales.”

ALEC allies are attacking EVs in other ways, too. According to Huffington Post, a group “…with fossil fuel backing hopes to spend about $10 million dollars per year to boost petroleum-based transportation fuels and attack government subsidies for electric vehicles.”

They’re doing this at absolutely the worst time for erecting roadblocks to reducing carbon emissions.

Reports by national and international scientists, including a group in our own federal government, say cutting carbon dioxide and other emissions that result from fossil fuel consumption is imperative for the health of the planet. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, for example, says we have only 12 years to stave off global catastrophe.

We should call the proposed road-use fee what it really is, a deterrent, and the Legislature should ditch this backwards bill in favor of more realistic ways to take care of our transportation infrastructure.

If you’re a North Dakotan and you agree, contact your state legislators and ask them to oppose SB 2061. To find their contact information, start here.

Personal logo of Martin C. Fredricks IV

© 2019 Martin C. Fredricks IV

Social Media – Tell Your Elected Officials What You Really Think

You gotta love social media. It makes communication with your congresspeople so “right now.”

Here’s an example:

I probably shouldn’t have done it. The Tweeted response did absolutely nothing to elevate the national debate.

But – Damn! – it felt good.

And for just a few moments it took the edge off of my jagged frustration with Republicans in the U.S. Congress.

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Establishment Democrats – You Can’t Have It Both Ways

The new generation of progressives is here. Democratic Party, it’s time to listen and act on their priorities, and in the aggressive manner they demand.

“Their Judgement Cometh and That Right Soon”

I’ve been listening to Democrats bemoan disengagement by the younger generation for decades now. “Young people don’t vote,” they’ve whined, and, “young people don’t get involved.”

For a long time, they’ve been right.

Guess what. The young people have arrived. They’re voting. They’re getting involved. And they’re making their voices heard among Democrats and Republicans both.

But many establishment Democrats aren’t too happy about it.

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Top 10 Reasons to Become a North Dakota Progressive

Being a “progressive” in North Dakota is the greatest. Just check out all these kick-ass reasons to become one….

Being a “progressive” in North Dakota can be tough. No doubt about it.

This state is so deep red that even the sky is crimson a good part of the time. Especially around suppertime. What’s up with that? To be fair, it’s blue once in a while, too, but always a very light hue.

Even so, there are some things about being a “progressive” in North Dakota that are worth considering. Here are the top 10:

10. Enter a crowded room and you’ll always know exactly where you stand. Don’t worry, it doesn’t take long to get used to being alone in the corner…

9.  Few people around here really understand “progressive” – they’ve never seen one in real life – so you’ll be surrounded by an aura of mystery. The only downside is no one appreciates the sarcastic messages on your political T-shirts.

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North Dakota Moves to Weaken Bakken Crude Conditioning Rules

Five years after Casselton’s near miss with exploding oil cars, the North Dakota Industrial Commission is loosening rules for testing Bakken crude set to ship by rail. What do YOU think?

Industrial Commission Actions Come on 5th Anniversary of Casselton Explosions

Five years after railroad cars carrying Bakken crude oil derailed and exploded near Casselton, N.D., the N.D. Industrial Commission is weakening rules for conditioning oil destined for railroad transport.

The irony is so thick it cuts like Jack the Ripper’s blade through London fog.

But this ain’t London, folks.

It’s our own backyards.

Too Close to “An Ink Spot”

Rory Peterson, who runs the Hardware Hank in Casselton, was spot on when he commented recently to The Forum News Service about the explosions five years ago.

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Blizzard Drive-By

We got the car out. Finally. We were incredibly thankful to Mr. Jackwagon for rolling down his window and scolding us about the vehicles pulled off to the side with their hazards on. In blizzard conditions.

Dear Mr. Supreme Jackwagon:

You know who you are.

You’re the guy who just drove past me and four other people who were trying to get a car unstuck at the entrance to a side street right off of 17th Avenue South, Fargo.

In blizzard conditions.

You’re the guy who did not stop to help. You’re the guy who, instead, took the time to lower your power driver’s side window and yell, in a menacing voice as you drove on by, “Hey, you can’t just park your cars in the middle of the street!”

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Six Every-Day Resolutions for Every Day

New Year’s resolutions. Some will be kept throughout the year, many for a few weeks, most for just a day or two. Maybe we should go with every-day resolutions, instead. Every day.

It’s the Little Things that Make the Big Differences

There will be a woman sweating profusely, lifting dumbbells to shoulder height for a few more reps. A man ordering salads rather than French Fries at lunch. And a business owner following up with clients more often. They’ll all be chasing their New Year’s resolutions.

They’re the big things we promise to do for ourselves and others at the beginning of each trip around the sun.

  • Lose 50 pounds.
  • Go to the gym. Every. Single. Day.
  • Volunteer for 100 hours.

Some people will keep their resolutions throughout the year, many for a few weeks, most for just a day or two. That’s all OK.

But sometimes it’s the every-day resolutions that make the greatest, longest-lasting differences.

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Trump Assertions on Climate Change are a Global Joke

The Trump administration tried to pitch “clean fossil fuels” during a global climate change convention this week. The world is laughing at the USA. Again.

Other Nations Laughing – Literally – But Not in Good Humor

The world is laughing at us. Maybe not all of us, the people, but definitely at Donald Trump’s USA, especially when it comes to climate change.

If you doubt it, listen to the laughter at his surrogate during this final week of COP24, where he told people the Trump administration believes “clean” fossil fuels will play a significant role in the world’s energy future.

Image for link to National Public Radio story on COP24 climate change conference

COP24 is more formally known as the 24th Session of the of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The convention of nations, convened in Katowice, Poland, comes on the heels of two science-based global warming and climate change reports on the already devastating impacts and dire projections for the future.

Despite that, the Trump administration chose to use the occasion to talk about coal and oil.

Not. Even. Joking.

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Citizens’ Climate Lobby Offers Reasonable Approach to Addressing Climate Change

New climate change legislation championed by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby and introduced by three Democrats and two Republicans is a reasonable approach. We need to support it, call our representatives about it and talk about it with our neighbors.

New Legislation Backed by Members of Both Major Parties

You have to admire the audacity of the four volunteers from Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) who recently completed a “Climate Conversation Tour” of North Dakota.

This is a deep red state; 63 percent of voters here cast their ballots for Donald Trump in 2016. And Trump is the world’s most devout fossil fuel apostle, its greatest denier of human-caused global warming.

“I don’t believe it,” he infamously said a couple of weeks ago when the Fourth National Climate Assessment produced by 13 U.S. federal agencies provided a dire assessment for the United States.

“The report found that climate change will cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars annually and damage health,” the BBC reported.

Even so, the CCL volunteers – Paul Thompson and Mindy Ahler from the CCL’s North Wind Region and Brad and Linda Kingery from the Bemidji, Minn. chapter – came to North Dakota for six events in four communities to spur discussion about climate change and let people know about Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s efforts.

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Citizens’ Climate Lobby Brings “Climate Conversation Tour” to North Dakota

Volunteers from the North Wind Region of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby recently traveled to North Dakota for a “Climate Conversation Tour.” During six events, they discussed climate change and new legislation in the U.S. House to address it.

Volunteers Discuss Potential of New Carbon Dividend Legislation

Bi-partisan deliberation, collaboration and respect for opposing views are the keys to addressing climate change in meaningful ways, volunteers from Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) told a group in Fargo on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018.

Four volunteers from CCL’s North Wind Region visited North Dakota to kick-start the discussion here. Their Fargo presentation was the final stop in a week-long, six-event “climate conversation tour” of the state, which included a presentation of a new bill in Congress that could have a major impact on the release of carbon into the atmosphere.

“Wherever we go, interested people show up and are always curious about how Citizens’ Climate Lobby operates,” CCL North Wind Regional Coordinator Paul Thompson said. “The culture of North Dakota is unique due to its heavy dependence on fossil fuels. That’s why more bi-partisan discussion and training needs to happen here.”

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