Cash for Clunkers Controversy Continues: Some Senators Won't Approve Unless It's Made Greener


Photo via Huffington Post
Update: Top 10 Most Fuel Efficient Cars to Buy with "Cash for Clunkers" Money

The Cash for Clunkers program is turning into a hotter issue than many ever could have foreseen: the wildly popular program ran out of funds in just over a week because so many Americans flocked to dealerships to turn in their old jalopies for new, (sometimes barely) cleaner cars. Republicans are using this fact to cry foul on governmental involvement in private industry, while proponents argue it's working, and just needs more funding. Enter a third faction--a bipartisan group of senators who feel that the fuel standards need to be stricter, and the program made greener, if more funding is to be approved.Sen. Diane Fienstein (D-CA) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) are leading the charge to secure higher MPG and lower emission requirements for new vehicles eligible for the $4,500 rebate under Cash for Clunkers. According to Environmental News Stand,

Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the appropriations committee's environment panel, and Susan Collins (R-ME) now say that providing any additional funds for the program is effectively a reauthorization of the program and are seeking to make good on commitments they say they received when the program was first authorized to require purchases of better performing vehicles than the law currently requires in order for consumers to qualify for the subsidy. The senators say they received assurances from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that if or when CARS came up for reauthorization, their provision on stricter fuel economy requirements would be included.
So basically, they're saying they were assured that if the program got reauthorized, the fuel economy requirements would increase (from the unbelievably pathetic ones currently required). And if those requirements aren't included in the $2 billion "reauthorization", they won't vote for it. And Collins and Feinstein aren't the only ones, either.
Feinstein, Collins and Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Thomas Carper (D-DE) introduced in June legislation for an alternative CARS program that would require the trade-in vehicle to have a fuel economy of 17 miles per gallon (mpg) or less and that the vehicle bought with the rebate achieve a fuel economy improvement of at least 6 mpg better than the trade-in to qualify for the $3,500 rebate and 12 mpg or better for the $4,500 rebate. The current program requires only 4 mpg and 10 mpg fuel efficiency improvements, respectively.
Like I said, the current improvements are rather pathetic. Four MPG, really? You could probably turn in an old Ford Taurus and get a new SUV under such provisions. Which is why Feinstein and co.'s reasoning is pretty sound here--if part of the alleged goal is to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, this really isn't doing too much to achieve that aim.

Check out the full article at Environmental NewsStand for more info on how Stricter CAFE standards could stall Cash for Clunkers
More on Cash for Clunkers
Making the Most of Your Clunker Cash
Obama Favors Clunkers for Cash

Tags: Carbon Emissions | Congress | Fuel Efficiency

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