United States Clean Air Act

The Congress passed the Clean Air Act in 1963, the Air Quality Act in 1967, the Clean Air Act Extension of 1970, and Clean Air Act Amendments in 1977 and 1990. Numerous state and local governments have enacted similar legislation, either implementing federal programs or filling in locally important gaps in federal programs.

The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 proposed emissions trading, added provisions for addressing acid rain, ozone depletion and toxic air pollution, and established a national permits program. The amendments once approved also established new auto gasoline reformulation requirements, set Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) standards to control evaporative emissions from gasoline and mandated that the new gasoline formulations be sold from May-September in many states.

Recent History

In May 2007, President George W. Bush issued an executive order to cut greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles, spurred by a Supreme Court ruling that the EPA must take action under the Clean Air Act to regulate GHG emissions from motor vehicles. Bush proposed the 20-in-10 bill, a goal to reduce gasoline consumption by 20 percent over the next ten years.

Bush sent the Congress a proposal that would meet it in two steps:
*Firstly to set a mandatory fuel standard, requiring 35 billion gallons of renewable and other alternative fuels by 2017. This amounts to nearly five times the target previously set for 2012, and was intended to displace 15 percent of projected annual gasoline use in the United States.
*Secondly, to continue the efforts to increase fuel efficiency by reforming and modernizing Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards for cars, and extending the current Light Truck Rule, with the intention of reducing projected annual gasoline use in the United States by up to 8.5 billion gallons by 2017. This would bring a further 5 percent reduction that, in combination with increasing the supply of renewable and other alternative fuels, would bring the total reduction in projected annual gasoline use to 20 percent. [ [http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/05/20070514-2.html Fact Sheet: Twenty in Ten: Strengthening Energy Security and Addressing Climate Change ] ]

History of the Clean Air ActIntroductionClean Air Act of 1970Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990MilestonesIntroductionThe legal authority for federal programs regarding air pollution control is based on the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments (1990 CAAA). These are the latest in a series of amendments made to the Clean Air Act (CAA), often referred to as "the Act." This legislation modified and extended federal legal authority provided by the earlier Clean Air Acts of 1963 and 1970.

The Air Pollution Control Act of 1955 was the first federal legislation involving air pollution. This Act provided funds for federal research in air pollution. The Clean Air Act of 1963 was the first federal legislation regarding air pollution control. It established a federal program within the U.S. Public Health Service and authorized research into techniques for monitoring and controlling air pollution. In 1967, the Air Quality Act was enacted in order to expand federal government activities. In accordance with this law, enforcement proceedings were initiated in areas subject to interstate air pollution transport. As part of these proceedings, the federal government for the first time conducted extensive ambient monitoring studies and stationary source inspections.

The Air Quality Act of 1967 also authorized expanded studies of air pollutant emission inventories, ambient monitoring techniques, and control techniques.

Clean Air Act of 1970The enactment of the Clean Air Act of 1970 (1970 CAA) resulted in a major shift in the federal government's role in air pollution control. This legislation authorized the development of comprehensive federal and state regulations to limit emissions from both stationary (industrial) sources and mobile sources. Four major regulatory programs affecting stationary sources were initiated: the National Ambient Air Quality Standards [NAAQS (pronounced "knacks")] , State Implementation Plans (SIPs), New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), and National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs). Furthermore, the enforcement authority was substantially expanded. The adoption of this very important legislation occurred at approximately the same time as the National Environmental Policy Act that established the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA was created on May 2, 1971 in order to implement the various requirements included in the Clean Air Act of 1970.

Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977Major amendments were added to the Clean Air Act in 1977 (1977 CAAA). The 1977 Amendments primarily concerned provisions for the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) of air quality in areas attaining the NAAQS. The 1977 CAAA also contained requirements pertaining to sources in non-attainment areas for NAAQS. A non-attainment area is a geographic area that does not meet one or more of the federal air quality standards. Both of these 1977 CAAA established major permit review requirements to ensure attainment and maintenance of the NAAQS.

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Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990Another set of major amendments to the Clean Air Act occurred in 1990 (1990 CAAA). The 1990 CAAA substantially increased the authority and responsibility of the federal government. New regulatory programs were authorized for control of acid deposition (acid rain) and for the issuance of stationary source operating permits. The NESHAPs were incorporated into a greatly expanded program for controlling toxic air pollutants. The provisions for attainment and maintenance of NAAQS were substantially modified and expanded. Other revisions included provisions regarding stratospheric ozone protection, increased enforcement authority, and expanded research programs.

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MilestonesSome of the principal milestones in the evolution of the Clean Air Act

The Air Pollution Control Act of 1955First federal air pollution legislationFunded research for scope and sources of air pollutionClean Air Act of 1963Authorized the development of a national program to address air pollution related environmental problemsAuthorized research into techniques to minimize air pollutionAir Quality Act of 1967Authorized enforcement procedures for air pollution problems involving interstate transport of pollutantsAuthorized expanded research activitiesClean Air Act 1970Authorized the establishment of National Ambient Air Quality StandardsEstablished requirements for State Implementation Plans to achieve the National Ambient Air Quality StandardsAuthorized the establishment of New Source Performance Standards for new and modified stationary sourcesAuthorized the establishment of National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air PollutantsIncreased enforcement authorityAuthorized requirements for control of motor vehicle emissions1977 Amendments to the Clean Air Act of 1970Authorized provisions related to the Prevention of Significant DeteriorationAuthorized provisions relating to areas which are non-attainment with respect to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards1990 Amendments to the Clean Air Act of 1970Authorized programs for Acid Deposition ControlAuthorized a program to control 189 toxic pollutants, including those previously regulated by the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air PollutantsEstablished permit program requirementsExpanded and modified provisions concerning the attainment of National Ambient Air Quality StandardsExpanded and modified enforcement authority

See also

* Emission standards

References


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