General Motors Likes the Cash, but not the Clunkers' Waste

The Obama administration's Cash for Clunkers program rewards consumers for buying more fuel-efficient cars to replace older models, which benefits the auto industry through increased sales. But the program also mandates that the "clunkers" that are traded in be destroyed, creating a large amount of toxic waste to be handled. Unfortunately, "General Motors has quit working with a partnership that collects toxic parts from scrapped automobiles, jeopardizing an effort to prevent mercury pollution just as hundreds of thousands of clunkers are headed to recyclers." The program is expected to send three-quarters of a million cars to the dump, many of which have mercury switches, and "more than half of them are in GM vehicles built before 2000." The head of the auto industry partnership, called the End of Life Vehicle Solutions (ELVS), said that GM is in arrears by nearly one million dollars, and that the ability of the group to continue the mercury abatement work is at risk. "We're surprised that GM, who wants to have this great, green image, would do this," she said. The U.S. government now owns more than 60% of GM after its bankruptcy restructuring.