Auto Emission Controls

April 18, 1973

Report Outline
Controversy about Clean Air Standards
Dominance of Internal Combustion Engine
Search for Transportation Alternatives
Special Focus

Controversy about Clean Air Standards

Conflict Over Postponement of Control Deadline

Two crucial ISSUES of the 1970s—the economy and the environment—meet head-on in the government's drive to reduce the automobile's contribution to American air pollution. In pleading its inability to meet a federal emission-control deadline for 1975 model cars, Detroit raised the specter of shutdowns and joblessness across the country. Every seventh worker owes his job, directly or indirectly, to the automotive industry. But environmentalists insist that the automobile is a serious threat to public health and is responsible for up to 80 per cent of the air pollution in urban areas.

In finally granting the delay on April 11, William D. Ruckel-shaus noted that the economic argument weighed heavily on the “terribly complex and important” decision he had been called on to make as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. “Involved,” he said, “are billions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of jobs, the single most important segment of our economy, the largest man-made contributor to air pollution and the ambivalence of the American public's intense drive for healthy air and apparently insatiable appetite for fast, efficient and convenient automobiles.”

The decision, though granting a delay, left Detroit displeased over interim standards and special standards for California, thus setting the stage for a battle in Congress to weaken the 1970 law that set forth new stringent emission controls. The automobile makers immediately faced the outspoken opposition of Sen. Edmund S. Muskie (D Maine), principal author of the 1970 law, who held hearings April 16–18 on the Ruckelshaus decision before the Senate Air and Water Pollution Subcommittee.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Jun. 19, 2020  Fuel Efficiency Standards
Feb. 01, 2019  Self-Driving Cars
Feb. 17, 2017  Reducing Traffic Deaths
Jul. 25, 2014  Future of Cars
Feb. 06, 2009  Auto Industry's Future Updated
May 16, 2003  SUV Debate
Oct. 26, 2001  Auto Safety
Jan. 21, 2000  Auto Industry's Future
Jul. 25, 1997  Aggressive Driving
Oct. 16, 1992  U.S. Auto Industry
Apr. 27, 1990  Curbing Auto-Insurance Premiums
Jul. 14, 1989  Automakers Face Trouble Down the Road
Aug. 31, 1984  U.S. Auto Industry: Strategies for Survival
Feb. 23, 1979  Auto Research and Regulation
Apr. 28, 1978  Automotive Safety
May 10, 1974  Auto Industry in Flux
Apr. 18, 1973  Auto Emission Controls
Jan. 13, 1971  Auto Insurance Reform
Jul. 27, 1966  Fortunes of Auto Industry
Jun. 04, 1965  Automobile Safety
Jul. 10, 1964  Automobile Insurance and Traffic Safety
Nov. 19, 1958  Small Cars
Apr. 17, 1957  Better Driving
Jul. 01, 1954  Competition in Automobiles
Mar. 23, 1954  Automobile Liability Insurance
Dec. 24, 1952  Highway Accidents: Causes and Remedies
Aug. 21, 1945  Automobiles in the Postwar Economy
Sep. 02, 1938  The Market for Automobiles
Oct. 26, 1932  Outlook for the Automobile Industry
Dec. 10, 1929  Condition of the Automobile Industry
Jan. 30, 1928  Automobile Fatalities and Compulsory Insurance
Dec. 10, 1927  The Status of the Automobile Trade
Air Pollution
Energy Conservation
Motor Vehicle Industry
Oil and Natural Gas