One of the debates that goes on constantly behind closed doors is how much is a human life really worth? The more subtle questions relate to illness rather than death and what are we willing to pay, as a society, to cure the ills of our citizens.
We are about to embark on a lengthy and no doubt heated debate on our environmental standards. A lot of folks at the EPA are chomping at the bit to raise the bar, and not just for the automobile industry. But our industry is probably at the top of the list, considering Vice President Al Gore's public disdain for the auto and for this industry.
The Beltway people will try to create some sort of value-effect equation. What do you get for your money? Actually, it's not the government's money in this case. It's not even our tax dollars. Chances are private industry sooner or later will have to pass on the higher costs to its customers. And if the rest of the world doesn't have the same standards, companies in the United States will be put at an unfair disadvantage.
I'm sure that sometime in the next few months a great many public documents will verify beyond a shadow of a doubt that the pollution from automobile exhausts is causing so many deaths a year, so many hundreds of thousands of serious illnesses and umpteen billions of dollars of losses to individuals and the economy. It will be up to the auto industry to figure out where all the numbers came from and issue some opposing statistics or point out the errors in the EPA's numbers.
The chance of any great changes in our air-quality standards any time soon is unlikely if the matter is left to Congress. Congress seems to be satisfied with the progress that is being made, and is in no great rush to change that.
Michigan Congressman John Dingell would seem to be a very effective watchdog for keeping tabs on the intended agenda of the EPA. He won't let the agency do anything without alerting just about everybody who would be interested.
The amount of pollution that has been eliminated by the rules that have impacted the automobile in the last 25 years is truly amazing.
Few people will tell you that the job is finished, but it would seem that there is still a healthy debate as to what are the biggest problems and what is being done to eliminate them
The automobile industry has eliminated most of the exhaust emissions. Let's hope the powers that be understand that the rest of the job must be considered in a reasonable manner.