Where money for government programs comes from is a source of endless debate in the US. The DRIVE program in Rhode Island, though, cannot be accurately accused of misappropriating funds. DRIVE, which stands for Driving Rhode Island to Vehicle Electrification, offers plug-in vehicle buyers in the state a rebate worth up to $2,500. The money, though, doesn't come from the general fund or a special tax, but from monies collected from those who violate environmental laws. Poetry, indeed.

So far, Hybrid Cars notes, collected settlements and fees from things like "Petroleum Violation Escrow" and "Stripper Well Oil Overcharge" have added just $200,000 to DRIVE's coffers, but since only $17,500 has been paid out, that's enough for now. If the money runs out, the state told Hybrid Cars, they'll just go looking for more money.

Rhode Island has been working quietly to get more EVs on the roads for a while now. In 2013, for example, the state installed 50 publicly accessible electric-vehicle charging stations. In 2010, Project Get Ready said Rhode Island should have 10,000 EVs by 2015. Since DRIVE is a new program, it is not offering any statistics just yet, but you can at least see a list of qualifying vehicles here. Depending on the size of the car's battery pack, the rebate ranges from $500 (for less than 7 kWh) to $2,500 (for anything over 18 kWh).

DRIVE's official purpose is to, "fill a significant gap in the State's clean energy portfolio, support clean air goals, and facilitate consumer adoption of no-to-low carbon vehicles."

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