Clean Air Act

Clean Air Act

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Clean Air Act

The Clean Air Act was first adopted in 1970. Since then, it was updated in 1990. The Clean Air Act was first implemented as a means of improving the nation's air quality and reducing the depletion of stratospheric ozone.

The major purposes of the legislation included the reduction of indoor or outdoor air pollutants that caused smog, acid rain, and other problems. The focus of the legislation was to promote human health as well as help to maintain the sustainability of fragile wild and civilized environments. The law also passed measures to phase out the use of chemicals that deplete the stratospheric ozone layer.

The Clean Air Act is the first formidable piece of environmental legislation in American history. The Clean Air Act was prompted by the first manifestation of the harmful effects of industrial, commercial, and residential emissions. As a result of the Clean Air Act cars were required to have harmful emission reducing catalytic converters.

The invention of the catalytic converter signed the death warrant of the popular American muscle car. The small cars with large engines lost most of their power when they were retrofitted with catalytic converters. Aside from the loss of power, the cars were major polluters. Cars that were manufactured prior to the clean air act were the greatest mobile contributors to air pollution.

It was the Clean Air Act and the 1973 Yom Kippur War, which resulted in America's first fuel crisis, that prompted Americans to have a brief love affair with smaller and more fuel efficient cars.

The Clean Air Act set the framework for the Environmental Protection agency's ability to enforce industrial pollution. The Clean Air Act has noncompliance provisions that state that if a company refuses to comply with the regulatory provisions of the Clean Air Act, the EPA reserves the right to shut down the facility or issue a fine. The Clean Air Act maintains it force by virtue of the By the 1990s, the Clean Air Act was amended.

It was amended to provide legal measures to reduce the instance of acid rain. Acid rain is caused by sulfuric acid. The Sulfuric acid comes from industrial smoke stacks and becomes part of the clouds. Sulfuric acid is water soluble and gets mixed with rain. The acid burns crops and kills vegetation.

Therefore, the US government amended the Clean Air Act to reduce the instance of acid rain. Emissions trading was proposed, but Congress voted the provision down. Emissions trading is the trading of emissions credits to have the authority to pollute.

This is based on the notion that pollution is inevitable; therefore, the free-market solution of emissions trading would be considered viable. The trade of the right release pollution into the atmosphere would be rendered an exclusive privilege by the private sector. The Congress voted this part of the Clean Air Act because it was considered too anti-competition at the time. The emissions trading idea survives today in the proposed Cap-and-trade bill.

The Clean Air Act is considered one of the landmark pieces of legislation in the environmental movement. Late 1960s activism started the environmental movement and the Clean Air Act was the fruit of the grass roots activism that made the legislation possible. 

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