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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 6, 2009 at 4:00 PM

‘Cash for clunkers’: It’s popular, but is it effective?

Convert clunker program to make natural gas cars

Instead of giving car buyers $4,500 to buy a gasoline-powered, fuel-efficient car, spend the money on converting existing new cars to natural gas.

That way we put more cars on the road that burn a fuel — natural gas — made in the U.S.A. instead of oil from Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Vietnam, Iraq, or someplace where there is an oil war.

— Martin Nix, Seattle

A call for compassion in ‘cash for clunkers’

While the “cash for clunkers” has been a huge success for the automobile industry, I think it’s important to point out not everyone got an opportunity to trade in their old car for a nice new one. Specifically, someone who is recently widowed.

My best friend died in April, and his wife dutifully had the registration on his 1999 Cadillac transferred to her name. She recently made the trek to a dealership in Kirkland to trade it in on a new Chevy Aveo only to find out she hadn’t “owned the car for a year.”

She pointed out that while the car’s title had been in her husband’s name, the insurance was in both of their names, and she had his death certificate and all of the other supporting documentation showing the car belonged to the family for more than four years.

She called the government’s hotline, which confirmed she indeed did not qualify because she had not owned the car for the required 12 months.

It seems a shame that in the rush to put money into the car companies’ bank accounts, those who drafted this bit of pork couldn’t have found it in their hearts to include those who have recently been dealt a tough blow in life and who could probably use a break now more than most.

— Randy Carl, Kent

Clunkers rebates too high for small mileage improvement

The “cash for clunkers” program is obviously popular and an unequivocal boon to automobile dealers and Americans who want to unload their low-value gas guzzlers.

But the program is not nearly as effective as it could be — as it should be — in producing environmental gains with this generous subsidy.

Before we pour billions of more tax dollars into this program, the U.S. Senate should seize the opportunity to elevate the fuel-efficiency standards for clunker trades to qualify for a subsidy. Buyers have been getting $3,500 rebates for buying new vehicles that get as few as four miles per gallon more than their clunkers. And buyers have been getting a maximum $4,500 rebate for new cars and trucks that get an extra 10 miles per gallon.

This program needs to be recalibrated to provide a better return on benefits to energy security and the environment.

— Andrew Prieditis, Seattle

Comments | More in Automobile industry, Barack Obama administration, Business, Congress, Economic stimulus bills, Economy, Environment, Federal government, Politics, Transportation


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