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June 25, 2009

Making the Best of Cash for Clunkers

This is a guest post from Ann Mesnikoff, head of the Sierra Club's Green Transportation Campaign.

Yesterday President Obama signed the bill that includes the "Cash for Clunkers" program into law. So, what are we getting? For one thing, this is a smaller program – one billion taxpayer dollars toward the purchase of new vehicles in exchange for retiring “clunkers” – instead of the original four billion dollar proposal. But the fact remains that the overall structure of the program is overly weak when it comes to ensuring taxpayer dollars go toward the purchase of gas "sippers." 

The Environmental Protection Agency will have just a few weeks to issue the rules that will govern this program. Cash for Clunkers will be coming to a dealer near you soon!

The one thing we can do is urge those who turn in gas guzzling clunkers – vehicles that travel 18 miles to the gallon or less – is to use their vouchers toward the purchase of the most fuel efficient of vehicles on dealer lots.  There are plenty of cars to chose from – the Chevy Malibu (conventional and hybrid), the Ford Focus, the Chevy Cobalt, and more. Let’s not forget that GM advertises that it has more models that get over 30 miles to the gallon (on the highway) – but still, the point is that a $4,500 voucher should help consumers buy the best fuel economy. 

Gas prices are going to go up.  We need to end our addiction to oil and curb global warming pollution.  This Cash for Clunkers program could subsidize the sale of 250,000 new cars – let’s make sure those are 250,000 efficient ones!

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