Posted by: Sara Shipley Hiles | August 24, 2009

Cash for Clunkers ending; will it help the environment?

The popular Cash for Clunkers program ends today. Customers flooded auto dealers to take advantage of $4,500 rebates on older, gas-guzzling vehicles when they purchased a newer, more fuel-efficient car.

The program certainly was a boost for the ailing auto industry. But did it help the environment?

A number of journalists have taken on this question, and the answer seems to be no, not much.

NPR aired a story over the weekend casting doubt on the environmental benefit.

“The program has been wonderful for the economy, but it’s been only a middling success for greenhouse gas emissions,” Michael Gerrard, director of Columbia Law School’s new Center for Climate Change Law tells Weekend Edition host Liane Hansen.

Gerrard said other strategies for reducing carbon emissions would have been cheaper and more effective.

Earlier, The Los Angeles Times reported that the  program is leaving some of the most polluting automobiles on the road. Cars built before 1984 are excluded from the program because of lobbying efforts by classic car interests. Madeleine Brand spoke with L.A. Times reporter Ken Bensinger about the story.


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