California's clean-vehicle rebate funds have been mostly given to the wealthy

California is making moves to direct more clean-vehicle rebates to disadvantaged communities.

California's state-funded vehicle rebates for drivers of plug-in vehicles skew towards the Golden State's wealthier citizens, according to a study authored by UC Berkeley regional planning researchers Dana Rubin and Evelyne St-Louis. It's not exactly an earth-shattering discovery, but it's worth noting as the state looks to cut pollution in its largest cities. The good news is that the state has already made moves to try to even things out a bit and give more lower earners a chance to earn some of that green-car cash.

The researchers took a look at the almost 99,000 rebates doled out for the five years through March 2015. And about five out of six were given to people with annual income levels of at least $100,000. Conversely, very few of those rebates went towards cars owned by lower-income citizens who live in some of the most polluted parts of the state. California has already made moves to try and balance the scales. In 2014, the state enacted a law that required 10 percent of Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) funding be allocated to "disadvantaged" communities while increasing the amount of rebates available for lower-income Californians.

As of November 1, the annual income level for those who qualify for such rebates has been capped at $150,000 for single earners and $300,000 for people who file their taxes jointly. With such changes in effect, the state spent about $230 million on the CVRP for the year ended September, and will spend another $175 million for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

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