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Sierra Club files lawsuit against Oklahoma for “unfair” electric vehicle fee

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Sierra Club has filed a lawsuit against the State of Oklahoma, citing what they call an "unfair" electric vehicle fee.

The lawsuit challenges the Legislature’s passage of House Bill 1449, a bill which institutes a fee for the purchase of electric vehicles. It establishes a $100 fee for the purchase of an electric vehicle and $30 for the purchase of a hybrid vehicle.

The Sierra Club is a grassroots environmental organization with more than 3 million members and supporters. According to their mission statement, their goal is promote clean energy and protect wildlife.

Johnson Bridgwater, director of the Oklahoma chapter, says the passed fee is unjustified.

“They can call it what they want and use the language they want, but this is about taxing people." says Bridgwater. "When this bill was debated, it actually barely got a simple majority vote. It almost failed, therefore they were not anywhere near the definition of a super majority passage."

This lawsuit is in addition to one filed earlier this year by attorney Gary Richardson. His case was heard Tuesday by the Oklahoma State Supreme Court with a similar argument claiming the bill's unconstitutional passage.

With more than 4,000 Sierra Club members in Oklahoma, Bridgwater says he hopes this new lawsuit will give them a voice considering many of whom drive the very cars at the center of the debate.

"Electric vehicles around world are becoming the new norm and we want Oklahoma to join the new energy economy. Taking actions to punish people who are trying to do that, we feel is wrong," he says.

NewsChannel 4 reached out to Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter's office for a comment regarding the latest lawsuit.

Terri Watkins, director of Communications for the Oklahoma AG, says, "The Attorney General’s office has not been contacted by the Sierra Club nor seen the lawsuit and comment on the case that was just heard by the court."

According to Phillips Murrah, the law firm representing the Sierra Club, the court is expected to set a briefing scheduling but given Tuesday's hearing, we're told they may grant or deny the challenge to the statute without briefings.