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

There is no evidence that [leaded gasoline] has introduced a danger in the field of public health…lead is an inevitable element in the surface of the earth, in its vegetation, in its animal life, and that there is no way in which man has ever been able to escape the absorption of lead while living in this planet.

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Robert Kehoe, a scientist “cultivated by industry as the dominant authority on lead”, Clean air act hearings. Environmental Research.

Pricing is still a concern with consumers. We continue to see sticker shock. And the potential exists that with some cars in short supply, Detroit will take advantage of the situation with some big price increases this fall. What Detroit will do is drive some people into small or used cars instead. In the last three to four years, price increases outpaced income gains and pushed people into used cars. Pricing is the reason the recovery won’t be robust.

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Wes Stuchlak, analyst with Chase Econometrics, Chicago Tribune.

If we sell too many big cars, we’ll have to stop building them. Then we’ll have to ram small cars down consumers’ throats and use dealer incentives to get rid of them so that we can build big cars again. The public is going to rebel because these hard-to-get big cars will then sell for full list or higher when the small cars are being given away.

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Sid Terry, VP of Public Responsibility and Consumer Affairs for Chrysler, 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.

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.