Premature Vehicle Scrappage

Since we last addressed this issue, the EPA has promulgated regulations that give state and local governments the option of using vehicle scrappage programs to meet mandated emissions reductions. These scrappage programs allow private industries to postpone emission reduction improvements in their plants by purchasing and destroying older vehicles that are assumed to be responsible for a disproportionate share of air pollution.

Minimum requirements for these vehicle scrappage programs include :

Car collectors and hobbyists are extremely concerned over the impact that vehicle scrappage programs will have on parts availability, small businesses that service hobbyists, and the future supply of collectible cars. Not only are the cars removed from circulation, but inflated prices paid through the scrappage programs drive up costs for rebuilders and other traditional customers for used parts. p> Currently these scrappage programs are voluntary and no one is being forced to scrap their car. This could change.

One likely scenario is the development of government sponsored scrappage programs. As the EPA continues to tighten air quality standards, the states will be forced to employ more stringent emissions controls. Going after older vehicles with use restrictions, new taxes, emissions retrofit requirements, and forced scrappage will be part of their strategy. Unlike private industry, governments have the power to condemn and confiscate private property. In certain states this power will be used.

(It should be noted that the EPA and sister agencies at the state level have a vested interest in making sure that the air pollution problem is never solved to their satisfaction. If the problem is solved, they have no reason to exist, other than to perform a monitoring function. Therefore, as one set of standards is met, another more stringent set of standards is put in its place.)

Opposition to vehicle scrappage programs comes from collector and hobbyist groups and another odd bedfellow, the environmental community. The environmental groups object to the practice of allowing industry to trade emissions credits and thereby avoid cleaning up their own emissions. Look for this opposition to dissolve when governments start scrappage programs just to meet federal standards.

Both the petroleum and the auto industries are keen supporters of premature vehicle scrappage programs. No need to belabor the reasons why.

Source: March/April 1993 NMA News

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