October 11, 2018

Mississippi is Doing Its Part to Promote Global Climate Change

gas station sign
Like most U.S. states, Mississippi charges a gas tax. The tax of $0.18 per gallon is supposed to go toward repairing and maintaining our roads. I see little evidence that our roads are being adequately maintained. They seem to be getting progressively worse and quickly. In the town where I live, it has become increasingly difficult to get around without hitting a pothole serious enough to cause significant damage to one's vehicle. Something as vital as commuting to work can result in expensive car repairs.

Fortunately, the Republican lawmakers who control every branch of government in the state of Mississippi recently decided that it was time to raise additional funds. They even decided to do so by creating a brand new tax. Before you applaud such an uncharacteristic move for Republicans, you'll want to hear a bit more about this new tax. Everyone in the state who owns a hybrid or electric vehicle recently received a letter in the mail informing them that they would be subject to a new tax. Hybrid owners will now pay an additional $75/year beyond their vehicle registration fee. For owners of fully electric vehicles, the annual tax will be $150. Evidently, the Republican legislators decided that the owners of these vehicles were not paying their fair share because their vehicles were either too fuel efficient or did not use gas at all.

The timing of this announcement could not have been worse, as it coincided with the recent dire warnings we have received from the scientific community about the impact of global climate change and the drastic measures needed to offset some of the damage which is already being done. It seems to me that this new tax will likely lead some Mississippians to think twice about buying hybrid or electric vehicles, and that strikes me as counterproductive. Not surprisingly, the people I know who own such vehicles are upset.

I can understand the view that those driving fuel-efficient vehicles are getting away with something in the limited sense that they are paying a smaller portion of the gas tax. And yet, they are contributing something important by their willingness to buy and drive vehicles that help to offset the contribution of the less fuel-efficient vehicles to our climate problem. I sure as hell don't want to have to drive one of these vehicles! As far as I am concerned, their willingness to drive them should be rewarded rather than punished.