But it’s a small step, and much more needs to be done. A bill has moved through the Texas legislature—it’s now on Governor Greg Abbott’s (R) desk—that would create a $200 annual registration fee for battery vehicles.
State Senator Robert Nichols (R), who sponsored the bill in the Senate:
As more of these vehicles drive on Texas roads, there are concerns about how they contribute to the funding of the roads which they use. Currently, Texas uses the gasoline/diesel fuel tax to fund transportation projects; however, with the growing use of EVs, the revenue from the fuel tax is decreasing, which diminishes our ability to fund road improvements for all drivers.
That’s a necessary step in maintaining funding for Texas’ roads and bridges, but it’s insufficient because wear and tear of our roads and bridges isn’t the only cost imposed on us by battery vehicles.
Battery vehicle owners also should be the only ones to pay for the environmental damage their vehicles inflict on Texas’ land. Battery vehicle batteries, at their end of life, cannot be recycled; they can only be “disposed of.” Major components of those batteries, like lithium, cobalt, and nickel are enormously toxic, requiring the dead batteries to be carefully disposed of, lest that environmental damage get widespread.
Serious environmental damage also occurs at the beginning of the battery production cycle, even if much of that start damage doesn’t occur in Texas: mining lithium, cobalt, and nickel, along with copper, is even more environmentally damaging than battery disposal, from the destruction caused by the mining itself to the highly toxic mining waste byproducts—tailings—that are thrown off by the mining.
Much, if not most, of the lithium, cobalt, and nickel mining, along with a significant fraction of the increase in copper mining, is done for the sake of these batteries. The only ones who should be paying these environmental costs are the battery car owners. No one else.
Battery car owners are getting off light under this fee.