The Public Interest

The politics of auto emissions

Howard Margolis

Fall 1977

THERE has been a distinctively “American way” of regulating automobile emissions. In December 1970, Congress wrote into the law very tough standards, to be met on a very tough time schedule, explicitly without regard for cost or technical feasibility. Once the standards took effect, the auto makers were to be fined up to $10,000 for each car produced not meeting the standards. This was known as “forcing technology” and “holding industry’s feet to the fire.”

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