Clean Air Act

The Clean Air Act (P.L. 88-206 77, Stat.

401) established a program to help clean up dirty air and to maintain clean air. Congress extended its efforts to remedy and prevent air pollution in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1970, whose provisions form the basics of today's air pollution standards. Congress amended the 1963 act out of concern that, without stricter standards, the air quality in our nation's cities would never be improved to healthful levels. At the time there was also a great deal of public concern about air pollution. Senator Edmund Muskie, a prime sponsor of the 1970 amendments, stated: "Our responsibility is to establish what the public interest requires to protect the health of persons. This may mean that people and industries will be asked to do what seems to be impossible at the present time." President Richard Nixon also pushed for improvements to the Clean Air Act. In fact, the president and Senator Muskie competed to see who could offer a stricter version of the amendments. As a result, the 1970 amendments established stringent deadlines for the achievement of air quality standards, as well as deadlines for auto manufacturers to produce cars with dramatically reduced pollutants in their emissions.

The United States Clean Air Act is a law enacted by the United States Congress to control air pollution on a national level. Such legislation was the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955, the Clean Air Act of 1963, the Air Quality Act of 1967, the Clean Air Act Extension of 1970, and Clean Air Act Amendments in 1977 and 1990. Numerous state and local governments have enacted similar legislation, either implementing federal programs or filling in locally important gaps in federal programs.
The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 proposed emissions trading, added provisions for addressing acid rain, ozone depletion and toxic air pollution, and established a national permits program. The amendments once approved also established new auto gasoline reformulation requirements, set Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) standards to control evaporative emissions from gasoline, and mandated that the new gasoline formulations be sold from May to September in many states.