It is frustrating to see the Obama administration support an additional $2 billion dollars in funding for the $1 billion dollar “Cash for Clunkers” program under the facade of increasing efficiency and decreasing emissions. A recent study confirms what anyone could have seen coming–”Cash for Clunkers” has done nothing for reducing our emissions and oil consumption. For $3 billion dollars and 250,000-750,000 new cars, a .05 to .15 percent decrease in oil consumption (yes, that’s between 1/20th and 1/6th of a percent) is completely insignificant. Obama and the Democrats should at least quit the environmentalist and conservationist rhetoric and be straightforward with the true intentions of “Cash for Clunkers”–another ineffective bailout of the automobile industry.
If Obama and the Democrats really wanted to reduce oil consumption and emissions, there’s a wide range of measures they could take that would have an effect more than ten times as great as “Cash for Clunkers.” At a fraction of the cost, lowering the speed limit from 65 to 55 and encouraging regular tire inflation could cut gas consumption 2-3% apiece. I’ve also discussed the potential benefits of a moderate investment into pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure in reducing our emissions and oil consumption while making us a healthier nation, and $3 billion could increase bicycling’s mode share at least 2-3% nationwide. $3 billion could go a long way in assisting struggling transit agencies nationwide, while still having money left over to develop a streetcar, light rail, and DMU manufacturing industry so cities could stop buying European-made transit vehicles. And, if the Democrats still cannot escape the political lobby of the automobile industry, at least mandate the purchasing of hybrids and other highly-efficient vehicles, rather than subsidizing more SUVs and gas guzzlers that get as little as 22mpg for passenger vehicles and 15mpg for trucks!
So Obama, Lahood, and the Democrats, please stop wasting taxpayer money with a greenwashed second bailout of the automobile industry. There’s so many better things that we could do with $3 billion dollars.
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