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The occurrence of rapid economic and political changes could be traced from the post-era of industrial revolution. These changes have brought impact to the environment wherein emerging industrial progress and remarkable growth of population has acquired significant economic resourcing relating to the utilization of the ecosystem. On the other hand, the accompanying trends in the advancement of science and technologies have conquered the law of natural sciences.
The expansion of factories, development of industrial machineries and increasing numbers of vehicles has brought in the looming effect of air pollution and other pollutants. Likewise, the exploitative and inefficient utilization of environment depletes the natural habitation of flora and fauna, from which the ecosystem becomes fragile and the forces of Mother Nature asymmetrically collide. Today, Global Warming is a potential catastrophe that threatens the earth and all its inhabitants. Such a situation depicts the poem of the Founder of Evolutionary Economics, Kenneth Ewart Boulding’s (1910-1993), as cited:
“The world is finite, resources are scarce, Things are bad and will be worse, Coal is burned and gas exploded, Forests out and soil eroded, Wells are dry and air polluted, Dust is blowing, trees are uprooted, Oil is going, ores depleted, Drains receive what is excreted, Land is sinking, seas are rising, Man is far too enterprising, Fires will rage with man to fan it, Soon we will have a plundered planet” (Boulding,1993; in Edugreen Poems, 2008). The health hazard and death toll related to air pollution is extremely alarming; specifically in most highly populated and highly industrialized countries.
Thus, the issue on air pollution is recognized as a critical sociological, economic and geological problem that is tried to be sensibly addressed by people and governments worldwide. This paper will objectively examine the extent and scope of various governmental and non-governmental responses on environmental science and policy issues relating to the evolution of the United States’ Clean Air Act, and the effects or impacts of its subsequent amendments towards achieving national and global importance in enacting policies to mitigate air pollution and towards the protection and preservation of the global environment.
Methodology This paper adopts a three-prong method of study, such as (1) a review of literature relating to the Clean Air Act, (2) discussion of policy issues affecting its implementation, and (3) situational analysis to evaluate the national impact. What is Clean Air Act? According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA), the Clean Air Act (CAA) has been amended in 1970 as an ambitious national campaign to maintain healthy and quality air by controlling air pollution.
With the 1970 amendment to CAA, many US-based industries criticized the CAA’s implementation due expensive compliance. To cite, the American businesses in a number of ways are forced to control air pollution through end-of-pipe methods that confine pollution and implement preventative measures that limit the quantity of pollutants, in which the cost of compliance with Clean Air Act regulations can be expensive (US-EPA, 2008). However, the Clean Air Act has been enacted to basically reduce air pollution.
Based on the report of Business Week Magazine (2008), CAA implementation contributes to the decrease of significant amounts of air pollutants in the US at about 30% from the period of 1970 to 1995, in spite of the US’ population growth of 28% of that period. Literature Review Brief historical background The problems on air pollution have long been an issue way back from the time of King Edward I of England in 1306 (American Meteorological Society, 1999). As further cited from the American Meteorological Society (1999), King Edward issued a proclamation banning the use of sea coal in London due to the smoke it caused.
On the succeeding centuries, Great Britain continuously pursued the anti-pollution campaign on its first trial to air pollution controlling in Chicago and Cincinnati during its US occupation, in which it legislated the Clean Air Policy of 1881. After the British-American war, the Clean Air Policy of 1881 was adopted by the US and enforced by its federal government agencies, specifically the Bureau of Mines of the Department of the Interior which established the Office of Air Pollution.
In the 1940’s, the tragedy caused by a “deadly smog” in Los Angeles and Donora, Pennsylvania elevated the alarm of the residents of affected areas which called the US Congress to pass the ‘Air Pollution Control Act of 1955’, which was the “first clean air and air quality control acts” that is still in effect and being continuously revised and amended (American Meteorological Society, 1999). Historical amendments to the Clean Air Act as a state policy
A timeline on the amendments to the Clean Air Act is herein cited from the electronic journal of the American Meteorological Society (1999) in order to fully discuss the historical and chronological basis of its evolution as a state policy, as follows: In 1955, the local governments’ problems on air pollution has triggered the federal government to address the issue at a national level in which Congress passed the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955 as a result of the “deadly smog tragedy” in Donora, Pennsylvania that accounted the deaths of 20 people and hundreds of casualties from airborne diseases.
In 1963, Congress passed the nation’s Clean Air Act of 1963 to reduce air pollution by setting emission standards for stationary sources such as power plants and steel mills. It did not take into account mobile sources of air pollution which had become the largest source of many dangerous pollutants.
In 1970, the issue on inadequate laws in enacting the Clean Air Act of 1963 has been amended by the Clean Air Act of 1970 as a major modification which emphasized challenging principles, such as the establishment of “primary and secondary principles” for setting air quality, minimize emissions from factories and vehicles as to be enacted by the state and federal government, and increased funds for air pollution research and development. Congress did not amend the Clean Air Act during the 1980’s because of President Reagan’s prioritization of economic policies above environmental actions.
In 1990, the long phase of idleness of the federal government has realized the need to modify the Clean Air Act of 1970. The amendment has enacted the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 that focuses on 5 key areas of implementation, such as (1) air-quality standards, (2) motor vehicle emissions and alternative fuels, (3) toxic air pollutants, (4) acid rain, and (5) stratospheric ozone depletion. The Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 (as amended) envisioned a recovery of gaps of regulatory policies and empowered the functions of government agencies’ and the implementations of their policies.