I suspect that many people in the Permian Basin don't realize that in addition to the federal government's Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS or "Cash for Clunkers") program, Texas is also offering a cash incentive for the trade-in of an old auto for a new one.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) created the "Drive A Clean Machine" program
with an explicit goal of removing proven polluters from state roadways. It offers a cash voucher up to $3,500 for the trade-in of a vehicle that's at least 10 years old, gasoline-powered, and that has failed an emissions test.
Interestingly, this program can be used in conjunction with the federal program, so that those fortunate few who qualify can receive up to $7,500 towards a new car. In fact, I had dinner last night with a recipient of this governmental largess. He's now driving a cool little Kia instead of an SUV with 200,000 miles and a steadily burning "check engine" light.
So, why haven't we seen this program trumpeted in the endless dealership ads in our area? Simple. The state program is limited to residents of 16 (out of 254) Texas counties. Presumably, these are the counties deemed to have the worst air quality in the state and thus most likely to benefit from the removal of the "clunkers." All of the counties are in the Austin, Houston, or Metroplex areas (wonder why Bexar County - San Antonio - was left out?).
The program also has a number of other restrictions, including limits on the income of the buyer and cost of the new vehicle (which doesn't actually have to be new; some used vehicles qualify).
Unlike the federal program which gives only lip service to environmental motivations, the Texas program is explicitly tied to a measurable (albeit still non-quantifiable) benefit to the environment.
And while we in the Permian Basin may be tempted to chafe a bit at not having access to this program, we should find consolation in (at least) three things. First, we live in an area where man-made air pollution* is simply not an issue. Second, the process for taking advantage of the state's program makes the federal program look like child's play; the feds could learn something about bureaucracy from the TCEQ. And third, we don't have to live in Austin, Houston, or the Metroplex.*Let us agree not to discuss blowing dust.