Current Issues in U.S. Environmental Policy

By Paul R. Portney; A. Myrick Freeman | Go to book overview
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Automobile Air Pollution Policy


I N JULY 1977, Washington and Detroit were again face-to-face over the issue of emissions controls on automobiles. The automakers were not prepared to meet the tighter statutory emissions standards for 1978 models that were to go into effect. At the same time, few believed that either Congress or the administration would shut down the nation's largest industry. At 2:20 A.M. on August 3, 1977, House and Senate conferees decided to give the automobile industry two more years to clean up emissions from its cars. The questions that immediately come to mind are: how did we get ourselves in this standoff position, why did Congress once again move back the deadline, and where can we go from here?

This chapter will address these questions. In the next section we will examine the history of mobile-source air pollution.1 Then, a discussion of the benefits and costs of automobile emissions controls is followed by a section concentrating on the question of technology forcing. After discussing implementation and enforcement aspects of mobile-source control policy, we investigate alternative regulatory policies to control automobile exhausts. We then examine the application of economic incentives to mobile-source pollution control. In the final section we summarize our findings and draw some conclusions.

Depending on which air pollutant is under consideration, the transpor

The chapter focuses primarily on automobile emissions controls since they (rather than those on trucks, motorcycles, trains, or airplanes) represent the dominant mobile-source air pollution problem and have been the focal point of clean air legislation.


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Current Issues in U.S. Environmental Policy


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