Auto buyback program is a crushing success

supplied by San Diego Environmental Exchange, Inc.
rom the driver's seat of a demolition crane, County Air Pollution Control Board member Brian Bilbray struck a blow for cleaner air when he flattened a 1980 Ford Pinto, one of the first gross-polluting vehicles purchased by the San Diego Environmental Exchange's (SDEE) old car buyback and scrapping program. The August 29 program kickoff event was held at Hilltop Auto Wrecking in Otay Mesa.
San Diego Environmental Exchange, a private contractor, received a $700,000 grant from the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District to purchase 1,000 pre-1982 cars and light trucks. The Air District expects the program to remove some two million pounds of emissions from San Diego's air over the next three years.
Motor vehicles are the primary source of smog in San Diego County. Recent studies indicate that ten percent of the vehicles on the road today account for over fifty percent of automobile emissions. "By getting these gross-polluting cars and trucks off the road, San Diego takes a major step forward in the fight against air pollution," said Bilbray.

Breaking up isn't hard to do

Each vehicle's frame, catalytic converter and engine block are destroyed. The only exception is that engine blocks from classic cars, as determined by the Air District, need not be destroyed. Spare parts from all of the program vehicles are recycled and made available to collectors and others interested in repairing older vehicles.
People interested in selling their cars or light trucks through the program are encouraged to call 692-2500 to be placed on a waiting list for a future program. Since the program was first publicized in May, SDEE has received more than 5,000 inquiries and purchased 275 vehicles. Vehicle owners are paid $700 per vehicle and receive a $300 voucher good toward the purchase of a 1984 or newer vehicle at more than 30 new car dealerships in San Diego County.
Vehicles must meet strict requirements set forth by the California Air Resources Board and the Air District before being eligible to participate in the program. The vehicles must be continuously registered in San Diego County for 24 months prior to purchase. They must be street-legal and in good driving condition. Vehicles with excessive damage or rust and vehicles which are not being driven are not allowed to participate in the program.

Making it pay

The current program is funded by a $2 surcharge placed on the annual Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) registration fees. The fees were approved by the Air Pollution Control Board to fund programs that reduce smog from motor vehicles. The automobile buyback program was one of 18 local projects approved for funding by the Air Board last September. Future phases of the automobile buyback program may be funded through the allocation of additional monies from the DMV fund or by private sector participation.
The Air District is also developing a Mobile Source Emission Reduction Credit Rule (MERC Rule) which will allow San Diego County businesses to earn emission reduction credits for the purchase of older gross-polluting vehicles. The MERC Rule is expected to be approved and in place by the first of next year.
San Diego Environmental Exchange developed the automobile buyback program with the intent of working with private companies to help them meet their air pollution reduction goals. The overall goal of both the company and the Air Pollution Control Board was to create a self-funding ongoing program. "This program will result in a boost for the County's economy and a decrease in San Diego's air pollution," said SDEE vice-president Jim Lantry.
San Diego companies interested in working with SDEE to efficiently achieve their pollution reduction goals through an inexpensive alternative automobile buyback program can contact San Diego Environmental Exchange at 283-6893 for more information.