Buyer’s remorse may be setting in for some who question whether the government’s cash for clunkers program is really all it’s supposed to be.
Sold as an economic stimulus and an environmental salve, the “cash for clunkers” program has succeeded in jump-starting the ailing auto industry. But some environmental and national security watchdogs are now arguing that the harm caused by destroying the used vehicles — required by the government trade-in program — may outweigh the benefits of exchanging pollution-spewing gas guzzlers for new, more efficient cars.
“Disposing of old products, a step required by most incentive and rebate programs, also has environmental costs,” Gwen Ottinger, a researcher at the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s Center for Contemporary History and Policy in Philadelphia, wrote in an opinion article published in The Washington Post on Tuesday.
“It takes energy to shred and recycle metals; plastic components often cannot be recycled and end up as landfill cover; and the engine fluids, refrigerants and other chemicals essential to operating products end up as hazardous wastes,” she wrote.
Others say it also does nothing to reduce America’s dependency on oil.
“Cash for clunkers is a historic mistake for America because it misapplies billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize more fuel inefficient cars that are bad for our dependence on foreign oil and bad for the environment,” said Edwin Black, author of “The Plan: How to Save America When the Oil Stops — or the Day Before.”