The background and legislative history of the 1970 auto-emission legislation is described. The bill that ultimately passed did so with little controversy because it provided each of the key groups--politicians, environmental activists, and the auto industry with what it valued most within the range of outcomes consistent with the political realities of 1970. It is noted that the legislation was based on a number of premises that were dubious to begin with, and that a superificial examination of the available information would have shown the premises to be false. In the case of auto emissions, the issue was almost entirely perceived as the auto industry versus the public in a cleaner environment. The underlying structural difficulty that is noted is the political likeness of the economic problem of externalities. Since the consumer is only weakly motivated to take into account the cost of pollution, the firm making what the consumer buys is also weakly motivated. The result is a social dilemma in which concerns and firms have no adequate incentive to take pollution costs into account, although all may have a joint interest in having everyone do so. The solution to this problem is the passage of a law.

  • Corporate Authors:

    National Affairs, Incorporated

    Box 542, Old Chelsea Post Office
    New York, NY  United States  10011
  • Authors:
    • Margolis, H
  • Publication Date: 1977

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00172369
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 26 1978 12:00AM