Air & Waste Management Association (A&WMA)

A brief history of technology-forcing motor vehicle regulations


Faced with the worst air quality in the United States, California began in the 1960s to pursue a “technology-forcing” approach in establishing motor vehicle tailpipe emission standards. This approach sought to advance vehicle pollution control technology by establishing future tailpipe emission limits even if no technologies existed to meet them at the time regulators set the standards. The U.S. government later incorporated technology-forcing into the 1970 U.S. Clean Air Act (CAA), and it has remained the main regulatory focus for bringing cleaner cars to market in the United States for almost 40 years.

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