Editor, The Messenger

Across Ohio, businesses are making the choice to embrace innovative approaches to sustainability in both their daily operations and their plans for future growth. While our businesses offer vastly different products and services, we all have one thing in common – our commitment to improving the health and economic development of our community through investments in clean energy, efficiency and reducing transportation pollution. That is why we are joining together to call on our elected officials to support measures that encourage electric vehicle (EV) production and purchase in Ohio rather than throwing up roadblocks.

Our businesses are taking a variety steps to reduce fossil fuel use, ranging from choosing locations that are easily accessible by bike or public transportation to buying from local vendors to investing in energy efficiency measures. We are on paths to switch our energy systems to renewable sources, and we are using fewer fossil fuels while still growing our businesses. Clean transportation options are a big part of these efforts.

Cars, trucks, and buses powered by fossil fuels are major contributors to air pollution. While this air pollution carries significant risks for human health and the environment, through EV technologies, we can reduce emissions from these vehicles and promote better health. There have seen significant strides made in air pollution reduction in the Appalachian region of Ohio, but we have so far to go.

Over the next decade, automakers are projected to invest $300 billion in electric vehicles. Ohio’s automotive sector currently employs more than 108,000 people, and that number will only increase as EV ownership increases and related supply chain manufacturing jobs grow. This is welcome news for Athens County.

According to census estimates for 2018, based on a five-year survey, the overall poverty rate for Athens County is 30.6 percent, the worst in Ohio. For those 17 and under growing up in the area, child poverty rates hit 31.5 percent in the same survey. This is almost twice the national average. We simply cannot afford to be closing our region to potential growth of the EV market.

However, Ohio’s current up-front and annual registration fee structure seems to be doing just that. The $200 annual registration fee for EVs and $100 fee for hybrids in Ohio are the highest in the nation, doubling the rates in Illinois and others in the region. Electric vehicle owners are prepared to pay their share for road maintenance and repair and other infrastructure developments paid for by these fees. But the long-term disproportionate fees for electric and hybrid vehicles send a clear message to automotive manufacturers that Ohio is not interested in expanding their advanced transportation market. As business owners, that is not a strategy that makes much sense to us.

We urge the Ohio General Assembly to reduce these fees to a national average rate of $100 for EVs and $50 for plug-in hybrids. This will not result in a significant decease to revenues to the state but will make a real difference to those weighing the benefits of purchasing an electric vehicle.

Our businesses make strategic financial decisions every day to stay afloat and turn a profit. We have made the decision to invest in sustainable practices because we know it’s good for our community, our planet, and our bottom line. It is time for lawmakers to make that same decision and invest in the next generation of economic development for Ohio – a clean transportation market.

Ben Lachman, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Nice Mohawk

Sean White, Co-Founder and Head Brewer, Little Fish Brewing Company

Christine Hughes and Bob O’Neil, owners, Village Bakery & Cafe

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