The Clean Air Act is literally a lifesaver and one of the most successful environmental laws anywhere in the world. For over forty years, the Clean Air Act has given the Environmental Protection Agency the right to protect public health and regulate air pollution.
Clean Air Act Benefits
With the largest scientific staff other than NASA, the EPA investigates the impact of pollutants on the environment and human health and sets limits based on these findings.
Since Nixon signed the Clean Air Act into law in 1970:
- the EPA has prevented over 400,000 premature deaths and hundreds of millions of cases of respiratory illnesses, such as asthma;
- the six commonly found air pollutants have decreased by more than 50 percent, while the U.S. gross domestic product, or GDP, has tripled;
- air toxics from large industrial sources, such as chemical plants, petroleum refineries, and paper mills have been reduced by nearly 70 percent;
- and, new cars, light trucks, and heavy-duty diesel engines are more than 90 percent cleaner.
These regulations are proven to save lives, protect the environment, and help the economy. An EPA tool shows that Minnesota will receive between $650 million and $1.6 billion each year in health benefits as a result of the final Cross State Air Pollution Rule. Another EPA study shows that the same rule will prevent 13,000 to 34,000 premature deaths and 1.8 million missed days of school or work.
In order to make the Clean Air Act work on a day-to-day level, Congress authorizes the EPA to create regulations. Regulations set specific requirements about what is legal and what isn’t. Once the regulation is in effect, EPA then works to help Americans comply with the law and to enforce it.
Every regulation is developed under slightly different circumstances, but this is the general process:
- Step 1: EPA Proposes a Regulation
- Step 2: EPA Considers Your Comments and Issues a Final Rule
- Step 3: The Regulations is Codified in the Code of Federal Regulations
An important point to note is that citizens have a voice in this process and are encouraged to weigh in on rules by submitting comments.
Threats to the Clean Air Act
Polluters and their allies in Congress have been working to weaken the clean air standards that protect our families and our environment, proposing rollbacks that would have a devastating impact on our health and economy. We continue to work with a coalition of advocacy groups at the state and federal level to stop attacks on the Clean Air Act.