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Congress is working on a bill to pay people to get rid of their gas-guzzlers. “The program is modeled on a similar law in Germany which has been credited with boosting car sales there,” as reported by Consumers Reports.

The bill has recently passed the House and is now in the Senate.  Here are the basic provisions of the proposal as provided by Kiplinger and Consumers Reports:

The federal government would give a $3,500 voucher to car owners who trade in a car with a mileage rating of 18 miles per gallon or less if they buy an automobile rated at 22 or more miles per gallon.

They would get $4,500 if the new car got at least 10 miles per gallon more than the old one.

Light trucks, SUVs and heavy trucks would get similar incentives.

Dealers would be required to scrap the traded-in vehicles, so the program wouldn’t cover higher value trade-ins.

It is not clear at this time if the incentive would be in lieu of, or in addition to a dealer’s trade-in offer.

To qualify, the trade-ins must be 1984 or later models that are in drivable condition.

Some senators want to increase the House measure’s mileage standards so buyers would have to buy a significantly more fuel efficient car to get vouchers.

It has been been argued that the fuel economy provision would both aid the environment and improve national fuel independence, while others have argued that accelerating the production of new cars (and thereby replacing older models before their time) will cause more environmental damage than driving less fuel-efficient older cars.

It is believed that getting older cars off the roads will get more people into cars with more safety equipment.  Older cars typically do not have stability or traction control; side-and head-protecting air bags; or even anti-lock brakes.

The measure would be effective for vehicles purchased after Obama signs the bill.

The legislation stands a decent chance of passing the Senate this summer.