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Senators Introduce Much Stronger Cash-for-Clunkers Proposal

Just as the House Energy and Commerce Committee was passing a not-very-green cash-for-clunkers amendment to the Waxman-Markey bill, three senators introduced a

Jul 31, 2020
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Just as the House Energy and Commerce Committee was passing a not-very-green cash-for-clunkers amendment to the Waxman-Markey bill, three senators introduced a rival proposal with much stronger environmental standards.
Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) co-sponsored a measure today that would modestly increase the “clunker” requirement of the program and significantly raise the fuel-efficiency mandates.
The House measure would give a $3,500 voucher to a driver who trades in a car that gets 18 miles per gallon or less for one that gets at least 4 mpg more. The Senate proposal, on the other hand, sets the upper limit for the clunker at 17 mpg and requires that the new vehicle get at least 24 mpg. It would set a sliding scale, whereby a trade-in that achieves a 7-mpg improvement would earn a driver $2,500, while a 10-mpg gain would yield $3,500 and a 13-mpg increase would garner $4,500.
And while drivers could receive a voucher for a 1-mpg improvement in their trucks under the House plan, the minimum under the Senate proposal is 3 mpg.
“The ‘Cash for Clunkers’ proposal that I’m putting forward with Senators Collins and Schumer would place a greater emphasis on fuel economy improvements than the House compromise — which could allow for the scrapping of perfectly adequate vehicles in return for federal incentives to purchase gas-guzzling vehicles,” Feinstein wrote in a press release. “That’s unacceptable. Our proposal, on the other hand, would achieve between 32 to 38 percent greater oil savings, save drivers 176 gallons of gasoline per year, and cut greater greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent more than the House compromise. In short, this would accomplish the dual goals of stimulating car sales and requiring more efficient vehicles. We believe this is a much better deal for American taxpayers.”
Ordinarily, I’d say that such an ambitious proposal would have little chance of passing, but with bipartisan sponsorship, it could actually shift the debate. The differences between the House and Senate measures will likely be reconciled in conference — that is, if the Senate is able to pass its version of the Waxman-Markey bill several months down the road. And as anyone who’s kept an eye on Washington recently can tell you, that’s a big if.
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Dexter Cooke

Dexter Cooke

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Dexter Cooke is an economist, marketing strategist, and orthopedic surgeon with over 20 years of experience crafting compelling narratives that resonate worldwide. He holds a Journalism degree from Columbia University, an Economics background from Yale University, and a medical degree with a postdoctoral fellowship in orthopedic medicine from the Medical University of South Carolina. Dexter’s insights into media, economics, and marketing shine through his prolific contributions to respected publications and advisory roles for influential organizations. As an orthopedic surgeon specializing in minimally invasive knee replacement surgery and laparoscopic procedures, Dexter prioritizes patient care above all. Outside his professional pursuits, Dexter enjoys collecting vintage watches, studying ancient civilizations, learning about astronomy, and participating in charity runs.
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