'Cash for Clunkers' Polluted America: Report

Federal program left millions of tons of waste in junkyards

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 7, 2013 6:00 PM CST

(Newser) – "Cash for Clunkers" made America cleaner, right? Not according to a report that says the scrapping of old vehicles left a shocking amount of twisted metal in junkyards—some 3 million to 4.5 million tons of waste, RawStory reports. The feds touted the program as pro-green because Americans were turning in low-mpg vehicles for fuel-efficient ones that would pollute less. But here's the problem: Old engines had to be destroyed rather than recycled so they could never end up on the road again, reports EMagazine.

With the engine and drive train destroyed, these 690,000 vehicles—many of them SUVs and trucks—were sent to parts dealers to be stripped by professionals or picked at by parts-buyers. Then they had to be shredded or crushed within 180 days, regardless of how many parts were left over. In the end, Americans who took part in the program did buy vehicles averaging 25.4mpg rather than 15.8mpg—but "that is a negligible difference in overall greenhouse gas emissions," reports EMagazine. See the full article.

In this Aug. 6, 2009 photo, a crane lifts a flattened car to a shredder at Gershow Recycling Corp. in Medford, NY.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
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