Cars: It Pays to Drive Green

If Joanne Aggens, a Wilmette, Ill., village-board member, trades in her 200,000-mile Subaru for a hybrid, she'll save $50 off the $75 price of her city vehicle sticker--a new clean-car perk she and her fellow board members recently approved. Towns are also using free parking and HOV-lane privileges to entice residents to drive green cars. "It's not going to send a mob down to the local dealership," says Bradley Berman, editor of HybridCars.com, "but it's one more way that a city can encourage civic responsibility."

L.A., Salt Lake City, Albuquerque and New Haven offer free parking for green cars, trying to meet the clean-air goals in the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. Environmentalists like the city activism. "People are not willing to wait for a change in Washington to take action on what they see to be a major problem," says the Sierra Club's Jack Darin. Not everyone's a fan. "These are incentives for the fairly well off," says Heritage Foundation energy analyst Ben Lieberman. And Chris Canning, Wilmette's lone dissenting voter, says the benefit discriminates against public-transit users and residents who can't afford a new, cleaner car.