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Articles by Lisa Margonelli

Lisa Margonelli is an editor at large at Zócalo Public Square.

Featured Article

This is a tale of two zip codes.

First there’s 94582: San Ramon, Calif.

Since 2010, the roughly 38,000 citizens and businesses of this prosperous Bay Area suburb, where the median household income is $140,444, have purchased 463 zero-emissions vehicles. Such vehicles receive major state subsidies; nearly $1 million of these subsidies went to vehicle purchasers in San Ramon. But San Ramon doesn’t need the anti-pollution help. Despite being home to a large highway complex and a business park, the city scores in the cleanest 10 percent of California’s zip codes, according to the CalEPA’s Enviroscreen Index.

The second zip code is 93640, the Central Valley town of Mendota, population 11,800, with a median annual household income of $28,660, which is less than the $36,625 sticker price of a battery-powered Honda Fit EV. Mendota is in the top 10 percent of California zip codes for pollution and vulnerabilities such as childhood asthma, according to the CalEnviroScreen. And how many vehicles were purchased there under state subsidies? Exactly one, a lone car whose owner received $2,500.

California’s green vehicle policies have been successful enough to becom... Read more