This article is available outside their pay-wall and well worth a read. An excerpt:
Despite Doubtful GHG Benefits, Senators Eye Permanent Clunkers Program
August 7, 2009 — While some environmentalists and analysts have suggested the greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions achieved so far from the widely popular cash-for-clunkers program have been relatively small compared to the amount of money spent, two senior senators are already preparing to make key elements of the program permanent components of the federal tax code.
The Senate’s Aug. 6 approval of a $2 billion cash infusion should keep the program, formally known as the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), operative for at least several more weeks, after the first $1 billion was exhausted in just over a week. But Congress is expected to face pressure to continue the program on a longer-term basis once lawmakers return from summer recess after Labor Day.
It remains to be seen what form a longer term cash for clunkers program takes or whether any modifications are made to the existing requirements. Some senators previously pushed for more stringent fuel economy eligibility requirements prior to the first round of the program, but they dropped those demands for the stop-gap funding and are remaining mum about their plans after recess.
At the same time, many say they also remain cautious about extending the program because of the lack of existing research into its long-term environmental and economic consequences.
Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), who chairs the energy committee, and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) were first out of the gate with a piece of legislation designed to create a more permanent program to provide incentives to consumers purchasing fuel efficient vehicles. Their bill would create a sliding scale of fees and rebates that would provide higher incentives as new cars achieved higher gas mileage compared to corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards and charge increasing fees on cars that fell progressively below the CAFE standard.
The Senate passage Aug. 6 of a House-passed bill to move $2 billion to the CARS program from existing stimulus accounts was originally considered doubtful, because the House had adjourned for the August recess, restricting the upper chamber’s ability to amend it in the face of criticism from GOP and some Democrats. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) dropped his opposition and several amendments to the measure were voted down on the Senate floor.
The CARS program — which was initially offered as part of the Waxman-Markey climate bill but later spun off into its own legislation and signed into law June 24 — is intended to encourage drivers to trade in older, less fuel-efficient cars for new cars with better fuel economy, simultaneously bringing buyers into empty showrooms and lowering the fuel consumption of the American automotive fleet. Consumers receive a rebate on the purchase of a new car that gets at least 22 miles per gallon, if they trade in a car that get less than 18 mpg; consumers receive a $3,500 rebate if their new car achieves a 4 mpg improvement and $4,500 for a 10 mpg or better improvement.
The rest here.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This item has been amended since its initial posting.