Key senator against using DOE funds for clunkers

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The chairman of the Senate Energy Committee said on Friday he opposed using money in the Energy Department’s loan program to provide $2 billion to extend the government’s “Cash for Clunkers” car sales program.

“Cash for Clunkers helps underscore how interested American consumers are in driving more fuel-efficient vehicles,” Senator Jeff Bingaman said of the program that offers consumers up to $4,500 to trade in older and less fuel-efficient cars and trucks for new vehicles .

“If Congress decides to extend this initiative, I believe we must not rob from the loan guarantees we provided through the recovery package that, in the long-term, will shift our country to home-grown, renewable energy while creating good ‘green collar’ jobs,” he added.

“Whatever we decide to do with the Cash for Clunkers program, I hope we will also adopt a long-term strategy that makes fuel-efficient vehicles more affordable for Americans,” Bingaman said.

Bingaman’s comments came after the House of Representatives approved legislation to transfer $2 billion from the Energy Department’s loan program to replenish the Cash for Clunkers initiative, which already has run through its initial $1 billion in funding.

Reporting by Tom Doggett; Editing by Walter Bagley