Current Issues in U.S. Environmental Policy

By Paul R. Portney; A. Myrick Freeman | Go to book overview

APPENDIX TO CHAPTER 3
Analysis Behind Current Emissions Standards1

The mobile-source emissions standards as legislated in the 1970 Amendments to the Clean Air Act are based in large part on work done in a study by Barth and his coauthors.2 With the objective of finding out to what extent 1980 auto emissions would have to be controlled in order to reach a specified level of desired air quality in 1990, Barth and his coworkers chose a simple "rollback" model.3

To obtain the desired percentage reduction in auto emissions, the researchers first determined the highest ambient reading in any city during 1967 ( 1967 max) for each air pollutant under consideration. This reading was then multiplied by an "emissions growth factor" to project what the automobile emissions would be in 1990 with no emissions controls. The factor that was used was 2.18 and was equal to the expected growth in the automobile population.

With the goal to provide the maximum possible protection to human health, they then chose desired levels (DL) of ambient concentrations of the air pollutants below which no study had found any adverse health effects. These desired levels were then subtracted from the 1990 projected levels to obtain the percentage reductions required. (An adjustment was also made for background levels [BL] of the air pollutants in question.) Finally, assuming that the maximum ambient readings in each city were attributable completely to automobile emissions, the required emissions reduction was calculated and applied to the current 1967 emissions rate from the automobiles ( 1967 rate) to obtain the desired emissions rate (DER). In mathematical notation:

The above methodology can best be followed by applying it to a specific pollutant.4 For example, Barth and his coauthors selected the current primary standard for carbon monoxide (CO) as the desired level of

____________________
1
Much of the material in this appendix is taken from chapter 7 of Jacoby and Steinbruner, Clearing the Air.
2
Barth and coauthors, "Federal Vehicle Emissions."
3
Implicit in their model was the assumption that the automobile has a ten-year turnover rate.
4
While we have chosen to discuss CO, the analyses for HC and NOx present similar assumptions and conclusions despite the fact that the situation is more complex since control of these air pollutants is designed primarily to control the formation of photochemical oxidants.

-102-

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