The Clean Air Act (CAA) of 1970, and its subsequent amendments, is a complex, comprehensive law that recognizes the existence of serious air pollution, establishes standards to protect public health and the environment, and authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set binding national standards for common and widespread outdoor air pollutants (also called criteria pollutants).
The goal of the Act was to set and achieve National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) in every state by 1975. The setting of maximum pollutant standards was coupled with directing the states to develop state implementation plans (SIP’s) applicable to appropriate industrial sources in the state.
The Act was amended in 1977 primarily to set new goals (dates) for achieving attainment of NAAQS since many areas of the country had failed to meet the deadlines. The 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act in large part were intended to meet unaddressed or insufficiently addressed problems, such as air toxics, acid rain, ground-level ozone, and stratospheric ozone depletion.
The 1990 amendments tightened pollution control requirements in cities that had not reached attainment, mandated a schedule for control technology for all major toxic air emitters, and listed 189 substances (hazardous air pollutants [HAP’s] — also called air toxics) subject to special controls. The EPA can add other pollutants that may present a threat of adverse health effects or environmental effects, but they cannot be listed as hazardous unless they meet certain conditions.
The 1990 amendments also required reductions in acid rain emissions, tighter auto emissions standards, mandated cleaner gasoline and clean-fueled vehicles in the nation’s most polluted cities, and phased out production of chemicals that contribute to depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer.
1) Microbeads and other plastic pollutants can linger in the environment for over 50 years, slowly accumulating toxins and working up the food chain.
2) The Great Lakes account for 20% of the world’s freshwater, yet host an average of 17,000 pieces of microbeads per square kilometer. (NPR)
3) More than 11,000 pounds of microbeads are annually added to Wisconsin waterways alone. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
4) Companies like L’Oreal and Johnson & Johnson recently announced plans to phase out microbeads, but it’s unclear whether they will use sustainable alternatives or other plastics.
- 78 percent of Americans say the government should limit greenhouse gasses, while 66 percent say they are more likely to vote for a candidate that advocates action to reduce GHGs. — New York Times/Standard poll, 2015
69 percent of adults consider climate change “serious,” an increase since 2008. — New York Times, 2015
70 percent of Hispanics and 56 percent of African-Americans believe the earth is getting warmer because of human activity. — Pew Research Center, 2015
Read more polling results here.
Some members of Congress are suggesting a rollback of key environmental laws, which could have profound impacts on public health. Climate change has increased the challenges to protecting public health, and more than half of Americans live in counties with unhealthy levels of pollutants, according to the American Lung Association. A new interactive map provides […]
NCEL members in Rhode Island introduced H 5369 on February 2nd to tax carbon dioxide in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The bill includes a trigger clause that neighboring states must enact similar policies for the legislation to go into effect, and NCEL is working to support legislators in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and […]
Shifting rainfall patterns and the amount of water in the ground is raising flood risk in the Northern U.S., according to new research from the University of Iowa. These changes stem from warming global temperatures that trap more water vapor in the atmosphere. As a result, scientists found strong evidence that flooding events will increase […]
The emissions-reduction benefits of solar power more than compensate for greenhouse gasses released during production, according to a new study. Researchers analyzed data from photovoltaic systems installed between 1976 to 2014, and determined that the “break-even” point came in 2011 using realistic performance measures, but by 2018 using the most conservative estimates. Solar installations grew […]
Coastal cities suffering from rising seas will also suffer disproportionately higher damage costs, new research has found. Increasing water levels are well documented, but little research has investigated future economic impact from increased flooding and storm surges. Scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research addressed this question by developing a model that combines […]