The Federal Clean Air Act
The Federal Clean Air Act (CAA) is the core and
driving force for all air pollution legislation in the United States.
As it currently exists it is the framework for a wide ranging and
coordinated federal/state scheme of regulation that that now pervades
our social order and national economy. It affects nearly every
corporate and private citizen in the country. The following sections
summarize the structure and history of the Act, and demonstrate how it
is currently applied.
The original CAA was passed in 1963, and since that
time there have been five major amendment cycles. Prior amendments to
the act have occurred in 1965, 1967, 1970, and 1977. The latest cycle
was completed November 17, 1990, when President Bush I signed the latest
Clean Air Act.
The original CAA
Provided grants to state and local
Air Pollution Control Districts.
Added Title II - The Motor Vehicle
Pollution Control Act, authorizing federal emissions standards for new
Registration of fuel additives
(Sec. 211) [40CFR79] - Coupled with the amendments of 1970 allowing
citizen suits led to the lead phase-out regulations [40CFR80.20] and
special nozzles with matching inlets for cars. The latest lead
regulations were promulgated in 1985 [50 FR 9386 (3/7/85)].
Aircraft engine emissions controls
New Source Performance Standards (NSPS)
(Sec. 111) [40CFR60] - Among other things, sets test methods, and
requires states to regulate existing sources in any category for which
EPA sets NSPSs.
Establishes air quality criteria
pollutants (Sec. 108) [40CFR50].
Requires EPA to set National
Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and goals with deadlines (Sec.
Required establishment of air
quality control regions (Sec. 107) -by default settled on county
boundaries and formalized regions in 1977 amendments.
Required preparation of State
Implementation Plans (SIPs) to achieve NAAQS (Sec. 110) [40CFR51].
Required that National Emissions
Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs) be set (Sec. 112)
Required the preparation of
Transportation Control Plans (TCPs) in ozone non-attainment areas.
Mandated New Source Reviews in
non-attainment areas (Sec. 110 (a) (2) (D)) including authorization of
off-set rules (41 FR 5524-30 and 44 FR 3274).
Set vehicle emissions limits with
compliance schedule [40CFR86].
Allowed citizen suits (Sec. 304) -
Citizens suits led to the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD)
policy and amendments in 1977, a TCP for the Los Angeles basin, and a
NAAQS for lead.
Required public disclosure of
emissions (Sec. 114) - A source could not claim company proprietary
rights to prevent public disclosure of emissions data.
Prevention of Significant
Deterioration (PSD) of air quality (Sec. 163) (45 FR 52676 (8/7/80)
and 48 FR 38745 (8/25/83)) [40CFR52.21].
Ozone protection (Sec. 150-159).
Forbids use of intermittent
controls or dispersion to control air pollution (Sec. 123)
Establishes Emissions 0ff-sets and
"bubble" approach (51 FR 43814 (12/4/86)).
Puts carcinogenic air pollutants
into NESHAPs (Sec. 112)
The 1990 Federal CAA was a complete rewrite of the
old clean air act. Revises the Titles and requires EPA to issue 175 new
regulations, 30 guidance documents, and 22 reports. It also establishes
6 panels and initiates 53 research projects. Formalizes congressionally
mandated regulations. Following are some of the items covered:
emissions limits for HCs to 0.25 g/mi and for NOx to 0.4 g/mi from
0.41 and 1.0 g/mi respectively
reformulation in "dirtiest cities".
Mandates fleet clean
fuels and lowers CAFE levels
Sets diesel particulate
EPA may prohibit highway
grants to states
EPA must establish
interstate air pollution transport regions.
achievable control technology (MACT) for 189 airborne toxics by 2003.
Mandates reduction of
SOx emissions by 8.9 million tons per year by 2000.
EPA to establish an
allowance trading and tracking system for SOx emissions.
phase-out of CCl4 and
TCA by 2000 and 2002 respectively.
Bans non-essential uses
of ozone depleting chemicals
Requires recycling of
CFCs from air conditioners and refrigerators by 1992
Mandates permit and
emissions fee system for acid rain emissions
Sets new SIP
By 1992 states must
require owner/operators of >10 ton per year emitters to submit
inventories of NOx and VOC emissions.
The 1990 Clean Air Act
The CAA is constructed of titles, each addressing a
specific air pollution issue. The CAA currently has nine titles,
covering National Ambient Air Quality Standards, Mobile Sources, Air
Toxics, Acid Rain, Permitting, CFCs, Enforcement Issues, Miscellaneous
Topics, and Research. An individual Title may require the appropriate
agency (usually the EPA) to write certain regulations, prepare reports,
issue guidance documents, or conduct studies. For example, under Title
1, Sec.176A(a), The EPA must by rule establish interstate transport
regions whenever interstate transport of air pollutants contribute
significantly to a violation of a national ambient air quality
standard. The individual titles with their major requirements are
Title I - Attainment of National Ambient Air Quality Standards
II -Mobile Sources
III - Hazardous Air Pollutants (Air Toxics)
IV -Acid Rain
V - Permits
VI - CFCs Phaseout/Global Warming
VII - Enforcement
VIII - Miscellaneous Issues
IX - Research