Auto Emissions

Auto Emissions

As long as automobiles have existed, they have spewed dangerous toxins into the air. The content and volume of these emissions have changed over the years. When leaded gasoline was the norm, the blood lead levels of the American population were significantly higher than they are today. Before catalytic converters, smog was an even worse problem, especially in car-heavy cities like Los Angeles. Currently, America's cars contribute to a staggering one-fifth of our nation’s carbon emissions and almost half of global automotive carbon emissions. 

Cry Wolf Quotes

In contrast to popularized reports, there is no persuasive evidence that low-level lead exposure is responsible for any intelligence defects.

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Dr. Jerome F. Cole, director of environmental health for the Lead Industries Association. The New York Times.

I would hope we would never get into a position that we’d have to tell our customers they can’t buy certain cars because of the mileage requirements.

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Richard Terrell, Vice Chairman of GM, Chicago Tribune.

If we sell too many big cars in any quarter in 1978, we’ll have to hold back our product mix and we’ll have to ration or allocate cars. The law is final now, but if enough people complain when they can’t get a big car, maybe the government will revise its legislation. To meet 27.5 m.p.g. by ’85, the average weight of cars will have to be about 3,200 pounds versus 4,000 pounds now. That means every car would be a compact, subcompact, or smaller. The new law implies that we must get better fuel economy between 1980 and 1985 then between 1978 and 1980. That’s unlikely.

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Charles Heinen, Director of Emissions and Fuel Economy Certification for Chrysler, Chicago Tribune.

We’re certainly not, and I don’t think congress should be, in the business of mandating consumer choice. If you do the math on it, the consumer will never pay for it. We obviously don’t think the CAFE standards are very well thought out.

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GM CEO and President Richard Wagoner, meeting with Washington Times editors and reporters.

Evidence

Backgrounders & Briefs

The Success of CAFE Standards

How the CAFE standard and its successes.

The Secret History of Lead

This immense article is an intricately detailed history of leaded gasoline, from the industry's early cover-ups to their attempts to defeat EPA regulations.

The Removal of Lead From Gasoline: Historical and Personal Reflections

First-person historical analysis of the leaded gasoline fight.