THE EVOLUTION OF THE EXISTING STATUTORY FRAMEWORK

Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act of 1965

Congress first addressed the need for emissions controls for motor vehicles in the Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act of 1965 (Pub. L. No. 89-272, § 202(a), 79 Stat. 992, [1965]). This act includes section 202 that authorized the federal government to set “standards, applicable to the emission of any kind of substance, from any class or classes of new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines.” Congress delegated this new standard-setting authority to the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). (The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] would not be established until 1970, 5 years later). Congress’s provision for national emissions standards was based primarily on testimony by the assistant secretary of HEW about the potential problems that would be created for vehicle manufacturers by divergent state standards:

The problem of automobile exhaust cannot be solved on a local or State basis. I would think, if I were in the automobile manufacturing business, that is absolutely the last thing I would hope to see happen where Delaware would pass this kind of legislation, and the District of Columbia this, and Maryland that, and Pennsylvania something else. You would go out of your mind, if you were trying to design devices or engines to meet these varying standards (Hearings before the Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution of the Senate Comm. on Public Works, 89th Cong., 1st Sess. 33 [1965]; testimony of James M. Quigley, Assistant Secretary of HEW.)

Clean Air Act of 1967

Congress revisited the issue 2 years later in 1967. In congressional hearings, evidence was presented that California had adopted its own state vehicle emissions standards and that several other states were in the process of following California’s lead and preparing to adopt their own state standards (Air Pollution—1967 [Automotive Air Pollution]: Hearings before the Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution of the Senate Comm. on Public Works, 90th Cong., 1st Sess. 395-399 [1967]; NCAPC



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