Crush for Clunkers


Detroit, Mich. – How much do our green representatives in Washington hate SUVs? They’re having them dismantled and destroyed.

As customers flocked to auto dealers this week to see if they qualified for $3,500-$4,500 in taxpayer-subsidized “Cash for Clunkers” rebates, a little noticed provision of the program requires that the trade-in vehicles be “scrapped, crushed or shredded.” The 136-page rulebook [PDF] by which NHTSA administers the Clunkers program is a revealing window into the planet-first ideologues that are now running our country.

First conceived by liberal Princeton Prof. Alan Binder, Cash for Clunkers was intended to provide a boost to moribund U.S. car sales. Binder modeled his idea on German scrappage laws, which are open to all vehicles, and he estimated that between 2 and 5 million cars would be traded in — a real shot in the arm to an industry that has seen sales cut in half from 17 million vehicles in 2006.

But being obsessed with converting Americans to their green religion, Democratic Washington perverted the program’s intention by limiting eligible trade-ins to “gas-guzzlers” getting 18 mpg or less — and with the caveat that new vehicles get at least 18 mpg and be at least 4 mpg greener in order to qualify for the rebate. Congress’s prudish green plan is limited to a measly 250,000 trade-ins, as a host of new cars sitting on dealer lots don’t qualify for the program. Want to trade in your old 2000 Ford Explorer SUV for a new one? No chance. The 16 mpg Explorer is not morally approved by Washington.

There are nearly 350 models of car, truck, and minivan available in the U.S. market, but only a righteous remnant gets Congress’s green imprimatur. Chrysler, for example — which has received billions in federal bailout dollars — qualifies only nine of its 20 new models for Washington’s rebate. Some stimulus.

Worse, Democratic demands that the guzzlers be permanently shredded means that already hurting used-car and -parts businesses will suffer. By insisting that the cars not only be crushed — but also that their engines be disabled — Congress’s decree will penalize the industry at time when a dozen U.S. parts suppliers have filed for bankruptcy this year.

“Why throw away good parts when the supply chain is in jeopardy?” the Automotive Recyclers Association’s Michael Wilson asked the AP. Good question.

So obsessive is Washington that NHTSA is actually advising car dealers to replace a trade-in’s motor oil with a sodium silicate solution — then run the engine to ruin it so scrap dealers can’t resell any of its parts.

The victims will be lower-income Americans who typically buy only used parts and vehicles. “Now you’re removing cars people could afford, and they’re not available anymore,” says Norm Wright, a Denver recycler. “There will be fewer cars to pull from, so the price of parts will go up.”

SUVs, apparently, aren’t the only things being sacrificed at the green altar.


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