Enviros decry Virginia tax on hybrid cars

McDonnell said in a statement Wednesday that he reduced the hybrid fee because the original amount was based on a higher gas tax rate in the state.

McDonnell’s original proposal called for eliminating the gas tax in the state completely and replacing it with revenue from increased sales taxes, but the final version of the legislation charges tax of a 17.5 cents per gallon paid by drivers who purchase gas to 3.5 cents per gallon that will be paid at the wholesale level.

The Virginia governor invoked former President Reagan in defending the transportation measure he was signing.

“In 1983, President Ronald Reagan proposed and signed legislation to more than double the national gasoline tax,” McDonnell said.

“When signing the bill, he said: 'We simply cannot allow this magnificent [transportation] system to deteriorate beyond repair,’” McDonnell continued. “The time has come to preserve what past Americans spent so much time and effort to create, and that means a nationwide conservation effort in the best sense of the word. America can't afford throwaway roads or disposable transit systems. The bridges and highways we fail to repair today will have to be rebuilt tomorrow at many times the cost.'”

CCAN’s Kemler said that did not explain the tax on hybrid vehicles, however.

"People who are doing their part to reduce oil consumption reward all of us with cleaner air and less climate pollution — but now Virginia will turn around and punish hybrid car owners,” Kemler said. “Just like many companies offer health incentives for quitting smoking, Virginia should reward, not punish, people who drive the cleanest, most fuel-efficient cars.”