Re: “LePage-backed bill would slap extra annual fee on electric, hybrid cars,” Feb. 8:

As an electric car driver, I’m willing to pay my fair share of highway maintenance, a common resource from which all citizens benefit. But there’s another common resource from which we all benefit: the atmosphere. Gasoline and diesel vehicles emit gases that degrade air quality and contribute to climate change. They should pay their fair share of the cost of maintaining a healthy atmosphere.

It’s not difficult to calculate a fair road tax for electric vehicles. The state’s gasoline tax is 30 cents per gallon. The average car now gets about 30 miles per gallon, so the road tax is 1 cent per mile. The average Maine car is driven 11,000 miles per year, so the average driver pays about $110 per year in road tax. Leaving aside that electric vehicles won’t be driven as far as gasoline cars, $110 per year would be a fair electric vehicle road tax.

But if we’re trying to be fair in allocating the costs of supporting our common resources, we need to add a tax on the privilege of using our atmosphere as an exhaust gas dump. That one is more difficult to calculate, but a lot more important.

Allen E. Armstrong