Federal Prodding of the Industry
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One of the facts of American economic life is the intrinsic antagonism between government regulatory agencies and the industries they oversee. Nowhere is the difference of opinion between government regulator and regulated industry more sharp than in the U.S. automobile industry. American automakers have become one of the nation's most regulated industries since Congress passed the first federal auto regulations in the mid-1960s.
The Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration oversees the industry's safety and fuel economy standards. The other main area of regulation — emission controls — comes under the purview of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The automakers have complained loudly about the federal government's regulatory role since it first affected ...