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Electric vehicles: It's either rebates for buyers or taxes for all

To the editor: Let's keep in mind the reasons for incentivizing electric vehicles in the first place. The global external costs of oil are estimated by the International Monetary Fund to be about $5 trillion every year. These include health, environmental and military costs, among others. ("California limits hybrid rebates to households earning less than $500,000," Aug. 23)

While it's reasonable to request a means test for getting a rebate from the state for buying an electric car, there should be no controversy over there being a rebate. We either use "carrots" in the form of rebates to encourage people to switch to electric vehicles, or we use "sticks" in the form of taxes to cover the external costs of oil.

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Kelly Olsen, Santa Monica

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To the editor: With the state cutting back on electric vehicle rebates for high-income buyers, it looks like California environmental policy is more about income redistribution than about air quality.

It seems reasonable to assume that people with higher incomes drive more. So encouraging a wealthy person to drive an electric car would maximize the benefit to air quality, all other things being equal.

There's nothing new here. After all, you have to be rich enough to own a detached home to put solar panels on it — subsidized by apartment-dwellers.

William Erenst Schenewerk, Los Angeles

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