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The Clean Air Act Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 18th, 2019


The Clean Air Act (CAA) is a legislation that pertain elimination or minimizing air pollution in the United States. The atmosphere determines almost every aspect of human beings and other organisms. Pollution with substances such as carbon monoxide, CFCs and Nitrogen Oxides has had detrimental effects on the air that maintains the life of people and therefore should be a matter of concern for not only to the government but also the individual efforts.

It is through the Clean Air Act that the issue of air pollution has been politically addressed at a national and international level. The enforcement has positive outcomes especially concerning matters of people’s health. Several models are employed to determine the effect of the increased quality of air to the environment and the population at large. The federal law states the responsibilities that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) bears in relation to enhancing the lives of the public through improving the environment.

The Act maintains regulatory requirements which have to be kept vigilant for its compliance. It accomplishes this through consultants and legal, personnel who are aware of the provisions and the enforcement regulations. This paper is aimed at discussing the Clean Air Act, its essence, historical background, implementation strategies, its regulations and the future prospects (Belden, 2001).

The Statutes of the CAA

The CAA which is coded as 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq and aims at safeguarding the public health and environmental protection by controlling pollutants of the atmospheric air. Through the EPA, the CAA states the standards and enforces compliance through the states. The regions that are not up to the standards or the “nonattainment areas” have to establish control strategies that are stipulated by the CAA.

It is the role of CAA to determine the origin of toxic pollutants as well as the ones responsible for the acid rain. By providing a permit for the origin of air pollutants it helps curb air pollution thus ensuring the atmosphere is protected and also in maintaining the state of clean air for areas with no pollution.

The federal law attains the objective through data collection, comprehensive research, as well as collaborating with the local authorities. The 1970 amendment of the CAA emphasized the role of EPA in maintaining air purity through scientific as well as technological applications. It stated the decrement of automobile pollutants by 90% up to nineteen seventy five.

In addition an EPA program was created that ensured technological control of origin of the emerging main hazardous substances. Also a regulation program was created to deal with air pollutants and its implementation through the Federal Enforcement Authority.

EPA was funded greatly by the federal government and that maintained its continuity In nineteen seventy seven, the amendment of the CAA reset the standards, prolonged deadlines to comply with the standards and established a program named the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) . The CAA amendment of nineteen ninety set various programs to ensure clean air via FY1998 and established detailed provisions (Lipton, 2006).

CAA Historical Perspective

Initially, CAA was enacted in July nineteen fifty five led by President Eisenhower but since then it has undergone several changes. Its provisions aimed at funding the United States surgeon General aiding in research for the regulations to be implemented. When several individuals died in nineteen sixties in London & New York due to ‘Killer Smog’ it triggered national and international debates on air contamination.

As a result, another CAA was passed in nineteen sixty three with key emphasis on grants as well as research to enhance air quality through the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW). This was followed by approving Air Quality Act of 1967 by President Johnson. This Act established origin of air pollutants regulation whose main objective entailed safeguarding the state resources and improving citizen’s welfare and their health. Moreover, it aimed at creating research at the state and regional level.

This was to be done through HEW which would engage in eliminating and controlling air contamination. Although it formed the basis of federal-state coexistence essential for the continuity of the CAA, the demerit of the Air Quality Act included inadequate compliance with the provisions (Lipton, 2006).

Later the CAA was passed by the congress in nineteen seventy with the main objective of enhancing public safety. It empowered EPA to create National Ambient air Quality standards (NAAQS) to set the appropriate levels of quality air worth for human consumption.

It also allowed the basis by which the states would put into practice the State Implementation Plans (SIPs) for NAAQS to operate smoothly. EPA disapproval of SIP meant its mandate to enforce a plan with the right standards. The statute initiated regulation of poisonous pollutants and a standard aimed at regulating the emissions from automobiles.

In addition, the legislation was also amended in nineteen seventy seven where nonattainment areas were on the rise with slow progress to achieving the aim and noncompliance with the regulations. Therefore, the amendments aimed at attaining the objectives set in nineteen seventy. This resulted to deadlines extension together with new control laws for areas not complying with NAAQS. It established a program called Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) meant to maintain clean air in attainment areas.

The final amendment occurred in nineteen ninety headed by President Bush and has seen the enforcement of laws by the congress concerning the pollution of air. It incorporated other programs such as Stratospheric Ozone program while reinforcing the previous amendments. It categorized the nonattainment areas, reinforce mobile emission regulations, stated the need for alternative fuel for region with high air contamination, set standards based on the technology and a way to deal with emergency hazardous emissions.

Moreover, it created a control program addressing the issue of acid rain, came up with permit program managed by the state to deal with main origins of pollutants, applied the Montreal Protocol meant at eliminating substances that deplete the ozone and to update implementation requirements’ (Lipton, 2006).

The EPA is awarded with the task of ensuring that the standard of air is safe for human, stating the deadlines to achieve the standards and regulating air pollutants from electric appliances, power plants automobiles and industries through cleanup strategies such as application of the Montreal Protocol.

It controls the origin of major one hundred and eight hazardous substances like benzene. The accomplishments of the federal laws stipulated in the act are tremendous with human safety safeguarded. For instance, lead is hazardous to the public and its source had to be put to check which in turn has seen a great decrease in its emission (Belden, 2001).

Implementation Strategies

The EPA is awarded with the task of creating NAAQS but it is entirely the role of the states to enforce ways to comply with the standards. State Implementation Plans stated in CAA section 110 are used by the states and are taken to EPA for approval. SIPs rely heavily on computer models as well as emission inventories to evaluate instances of air contamination.

In case of a standards extension more controls are placed on the sources to curb standard ‘exceedances’. EPA awards permits for the upcoming sources and those already determined where the parties have to clearly determine whether the emissions will go beyond what is set. The nonattainment regions have to be monitored to reduce emissions from the sources that are already in place.

The CAA nineteen ninety amendments assign EPA with the power of awarding sanctions in those regions that do not forward the SIP, or one that is inadequate or failure in SIP implementation. According to Lipton, “ Unless the state b corrects such failures, a 2-to-1 emissions offset for the construction of new polluting sources is imposed 18 months after notification to the state, and a ban on most federal highway grants is imposed six months later.

An additional ban on air quality grants is discretionary. Ultimately, a federal Implementation Plan may be imposed if the state fails to submit or implement an adequate SIP” (2006). In regions that are nonattainment, there are absolutely no funding and federal permits awarded because of inconformity with SIP. The restriction of financial aid on projects may be temporary but conformity with SIPs must occur in these areas once in two years.

CAA Regulations and Future Prospects

The detailed provisions stated in the nineteen ninety legislation could be a green light for dealing with the future problems facing the national air quality. However, it does not deal with every aspect that may arise in the future. It has subjected to all activities to EPA in establishing policies, making rules, awarding regulation documents and engaging in various interpretations.

This is overworking a single agency that is delegated with all the procedures. Other permitting agencies categorically deal with particular industries at state and local setups. This significantly affects the finances and operations of these industries through their engagements.

Furthermore, EPA offers complex documents with guidelines containing CAA requirements. This in turn affects their performance since they end up boycotting some deadlines even though it has continued to suffocate specific entities with rules. On the other hand, EPA has effective procedures of awarding policy guidance and in dealing with the affected parties.

This has gained them a high input in the recent past since the last amendment was made. Its staff regards inputs from the stakeholders with the local and state agencies armed with professional knowhow and contribute to the EPA policymaking and CAA enforcement. However, increased scrutiny from the congress has evaluated CAA programs needing accountability in efficiency, and reasons for failure to achieve quality air.

These demands have resulted to EPA underfunding and in turn laming its efficiency in making and handling CAA requirements and uncertainty in achieving the objectives. As a result, it has had overreliance on other sources of funding such as local agencies and institutions like the universities for its operations which creates loopholes for its professionals to compromise CAA values to impress the clients (Novello & Martineau, 2004).

With the advancing technology, industries are not sure whether the levels of the emission standards required are possible. It is the role of the EPA to determine whether some substances will remain or banned from operating thus burdening the industries to hire professionals who could accurately advice them. The professionals should be well aware of current records (Clean Air Docket) of CAA requirements and rules available in state agencies, electronically, in regional offices’ libraries, seminars, EPA or in Washington DC.

The conferences held by EPA are mostly sponsored by organizations such as The American Bar Association as well as Waste Management Association which publish required information regarding EPA. EPA has established Technology Transfer Network (TTN) that is free and offers electronic information on air pollution globally through communication software.

The internet has aided EPA where complex CAA requirements are available and individuals using the internet could air their views, contribute in policy making and in permit application. Moreover, The EPA has established forums to reach individuals from all walks of life where they collect data, participate in discussions and determine the creation of policies. It is mainly geared at achieving the provisions set in the nineteen ninety CAA amendments.

The nineteen ninety nine report released appreciated the federal support and more specifically in decreasing emissions from automobiles and for essential programs (Novello & Martineau, 2004). With all the resources, EPA will hopefully manage the problem of air pollution in the future.


The CAA complexity in its environmental statutes in maintaining air quality is evident as it has established many detailed regulations as stipulated by the Code of Federal Regulations.

Irrespective of the fact that the last amendment dates back in 1990, there are no limits for setting new regulations to rhyme with the initial objective of maintaining public health and safeguarding the environment. The federal EPA is empowered by CAA for its implementation. The states significantly contribute to ensuring that the state air is in accordance with the standards set by the CAA through SIP.

The hazardous substances add up to a hundred and eighty eight that risk human health and that of the surroundings which have to be regulated through Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) (‘NRC’ 2003). Much of the requirements set in the nineteen ninety amendments have been accomplished although there is still a long way to go for the entire United States to be freed from risks emanating from air pollution.

It is notable that around a hundred million people in the US live in nonattainment areas where ozone pollution and contamination from fine substances act as a health hazard. Therefore, a great challenge still lies ahead which have to be countered with more efficient NAAQS implementation through collaboration of the state and the federal agency, EPA (Wood, 2000).

Environmental laws have been dependent strongly on the political arena. For instance, the Americans attribute the issues of the environment to the government whose efficiency depend on government’s attention. Environmental issues triggers press attention which makes it hard for the government to ignore them.

The future of EPA continues to be affected by international decision such as the Montreal Protocol which contains provisions for dealing with ozone depleting agents e.g. CFCs (Davies & Mazurek, 1999). Safeguarding people’s health is not only beneficial in increasing the life expectancy but also in managing the nation’s economic expenditures that can be otherwise avoided.


Belden, R. (2001). Clean Air Act: Section of Environmental Energy, and Resources. Chicago, Illinois: American Bar Association.

Davies, C. & Mazurek J. (1999). Pollution Control in the United States. Washington D.C: Resources for the Future.

Lipton, J. (2006). Clean Air Act: Integration and Analysis. New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

National Research Council (NRC). (2003). Air Emissions from Animal Feeding Operations: Current Knowledge, Future Needs. Washington D.C: National Academies of Sciences.

Novello, D. & Martineau, R. (2004). The Clean Air Act handbook.2 Ed. Chicago, Illinois: American Bar Association.

Wood, D. (2000). Air Pollution: Status of Implementation of the Clean air Act Amendments of 1990.Washington D.C: United States Government Accountability office.

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