Drivers in Texas now have an incentive to get rid of older, polluting vehicles. A new state program is offering to pay owners of old cars to buy newer, cleaner-operating cars.
The AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine program is funded by vehicle-inspection fees in the Dallas and Houston areas, and will give low-income drivers vouchers for up to $3,500 to put towards a new car.
The program is designed to take older, polluting vehicles off the road. To be eligible, drivers must own a vehicle at least ten years old, or one that has failed state emissions tests.
Owners must also live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Houston or Austin--all of which are non-attainment areas, meaning they do not meet federal ozone standards.
Emissions produced by old cars are the primary source of nitrogen oxides (NOx) in these areas.
The engines and exhaust systems of the vehicles turned in will be destroyed to make sure they are not put back into service on Texas roadways.
"Today's cars and trucks are significantly cleaner-running than their predecessors, up to 98% cleaner than those produced just 10 years ago," said State Senator Kip Averitt, who wrote the bill that authorized the program.
"The Drive a Clean Machine program will partner with Texans willing to purchase a new car and get these old polluters off the road, providing a good return on taxpayers' investment," Averitt said.
The program will provide the following incentives to households whose vehicles are registered in one of Texas' 16 counties in non-attainment or near-non-attainment status for ozone standards:
- $3,000 for a car, current model year or up to three model years old
- $3,000 for a truck, current model year or up to two model years old
- $3,500 for a hybrid vehicle, current or previous model year
A Household also must make less than 300% of the federal poverty level. A family of four with an annual net income up to $61,950 could be eligible for the program.
The vehicles purchased with program vouchers must be on a list of qualifying vehicles and cost less than $25,000. They also must be purchased from participating dealers.
"Mobile emissions are perhaps the most challenging part of the state's air quality puzzle," said Buddy Garcia, chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, TCEQ, which is sponsoring the program. "Removing these old cars and replacing them with cleaner vehicles is arguably one of the most effective ways to significantly improve our air quality."