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The Clean Air Act

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  • Pages: 8
  • Word count: 1817
  • Category: Pollution

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The clean air act is the federal law in United States that was made to ensure that all the citizens in America have safe and fresh air for breathing. This act was passed in the year 1990 with its amendment done in 1977.

Despite the law protecting the health of the American citizens it also protects the environment by ensuring that the environment is fit for other human activities. The act works by ensuring that the Environmental Protection Agency in United States comes up with standard of health based air quality which protects the environment against the common pollutants. The common pollutants that the air act deals with are the carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate soot and lead. The United States government has set up some plans to meet the standards of health within a specified period of time. There have been some problems on meeting the health standards in those areas where the smog is worst.  The environmental protection agency on the clean air act has come up with national standards to control other sources of pollution such tracks and automobiles (Goklany, 1999, p.19).

 To some extend this act has been successful but faced with various challenges. The public health and the cleanness of the air have improved to a certain percentage. The emission of the gases such as sulfur dioxide has gone down by 35 percent despite that the national output in United States has increased. However, this improvement on the air condition in United States of America the act of clean air faces some challenges in its implementation.

First is the problem of the air pollutions that are coming from outside the United States. The environmental protection agency finds it hard to use the clean air act policy to regulate the air pollution or attain the set standards when it comes to the case of gas emissions from other neighboring countries. United States has been much committed to attain the standards which are set to regulate the air pollution, but the pollution from other countries such as the African countries, Canada, and Alaska which have got poor management practice in controlling the air pollution makes it a big challenge for United States government to implement the clean air act successfully (Patton, 2001, p.183.

The United States government has challenge in implementing this policy, as the Environmental Protection Agency in regulating the air pollution is incompetent of identifying and providing the feasible, applicable, and reliable mechanisms to discount and address the foreign emissions impact. In this matter the guidance of the Environmental Protection Agency is defiant, limited and complex. To regulating the air pollution by the Environmental Protection Agency uses an approach known as the idiosyncratic case-by-case to curb the problem of pollutant emission in the air from outside. This leaves the affected counties or states to come up with a case for statutory relief, with no prior knowledge on the Environmental Protection Agency evidence in any given circumstance it may find.

The third challenge United States governance is facing in the implementation of the clean air act policy is that of complying with the long-term federal air quality trend standards. The local, state and the regional authorities are supposed to meet the above requirements, which has been a great challenge to them. To comply with the above requirements it becomes burdensome and costly for the firm and other bodies in United States. To ensure that there is compliance to the set air quality standards it is enormously complex. It has been found that the increasing air emission contaminants in United States have foreign origin (Mitchell, 1995, p.267). The size of the extraterritorial components of anthropogenic leads to the aggregate air quality data for monitoring which is used for the purpose of compliance is increasing as the economy of the world is also expanding. This makes it difficult and costly for United States to solve completely the problem of air pollution under the clean air act policy.

United states have challenge in resolving the air pollution problem in that; there has been an emerging conflict due to changes on the set standard of maintaining the air quality. The standard at the current moment has been lowered significant. If the people in the United States are not made aware of this changes there will be complains allover the Untied States that states have ceased to comply with the set air quality standards.

Demand for High economic output as a result of increasing demand from the increasing population been a big challenge to the implementation of the clean air act. Where we have more production in any economy high levels of emission are experienced. In United States the demand for more production has been a challenge to control the air emmmissions. More factories have been set which are aspiring to make maximum output. This occurs at the expense of the environment and more especially the air. This makes the government to be in dilemma on which to give more value. As the American population keeps on increasing, demand for more production arises. This has actually challenges the stakeholder in the environmental pollution control as there is no other option other than to produce what can meet the demand for the citizens. This has also led to change in the set standard on air quality is maintained (Crndall, 1983, p.54).

The growing competition among the United States companies is making it difficult for the implementation of the clean air act. These firms are fighting to capture a big share of the market by adapting production techniques which are environmental unfriendly. These companies have even gone to courts to defend on the adopted techniques used in the production. The firms have challenged the environmental protection agencies by use of judicial courts to denying that their production techniques are environment friendly and the extend they emit gases to environment is to the set standards of the clean air act. This has led to the misinterpretation of the enacted policies to control the environmental pollution by the judicial courts, making the policies to be less effective

The clean air act has faced many challenges which arise from the different interests on the set standards to maintain the air quality. Each state in America feels that their interest should be reflected in the policy concerning the rate of air pollution they should make during the production. Some of the states set more levels of production than the other in the areas where they have more comparative advantage. Each delegate from the states fights to ensure that there objectives are met (Crandall, 1983, p.69).

United States also has the problem of capturing the true data on the cost of the air pollution. The monitoring agencies in this are incompetence in recording the data that is required to asses the amount of impact caused by air pollution. Some of air pollution activities are not accounted among the major air pollution activities. The monitoring of the air pollution is done manually in some areas which is prone to many errors and inaccurate recording. This has lead to the environmental protection agency to come up with the wrong standard on the level of the emissions that should be released to the air.  The recordings of the air pollution effects is only done in the main centers such as hospitals, where in some cases the simple effects which might arise due to air pollution are not captured (Goklany, 1999, p. 42). The fact is that, more air pollution will continue to occur depending on the set rate of the air pollution from production firms. Raising interests have come up in the quality of air surveillance has led to big challenge to measures of abatement in United States.

The clean air act is a policy that has been designed to make the air fresh for all citizens in United States, regardless the location where the person is and also what the individual is doing. This policy has been faced with a challenge in solving the pollution problem at individual level. The policy only deals widely with the pollution which is affecting all the states. Some anthropogenic activities have not been put into consideration under this act. Air pollution in rural areas is not combated by this policy. Most rural citizens use firewood, and the urban citizens use coal to heat. These activities produce a lot of particulate matter which are suspended in the air, volatile organic compounds and carbon dioxide. The coal when burns produce nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and other poisonous gases (Patton, 2001, p.196). World health organization has proved that most of the diseases killing people arising from indoor pollution and have resulted to premature death. For this matter, the application of clean air act policy is limited to some regions activities. The policy is more serious on the large pollutions which are produced by the big firms. United States government to make sure that the policy is well effective must ensure that it has incorporated all sort of air pollution regardless who does it and where.

The United States automobile which is growing vastly is one of the causes of air pollution. The clean air act policy has been incompetent in resolving this issue due to a number of factors. The environmental protection agency has not been in position to identify accurately what are the increasing pollutants of air in cities of united state and the hazardous one. Environmental protection agencies have also failed to identify the contribution of various pollutants and to what rate are these sources of pollution multiplying. Also the risk of different pollutants has not been accurately identified by these agencies (Mitchell, 1995, p.277).

Despite the fact that air pollution is unavoidable, the government of United States should extend the policy of the clean air act to other neighboring countries so that it ensures its efficiency. Not only should the act be aimed at the major causes of air pollution but also be focused to the other areas as rural area in which the WHO has a growing concern with. The environmental protection agency needs to discover new and improved means of monitoring the data on the air pollution so that the extend with which the pollutants interferes with the environment can be determined accurately.


Crandall, R. (1983). Controlling Industrial Pollution: The Economics and Politics of Clean Air. New York: Brookings Institution

Goklany, I. (1999). Clearing the Air: The Real Story of the War on Air Pollution. New York: Cato Institute

Mitchell, A. (1995). Transportation Planning and the Clean Air Act. Environmental Law. Vol.25; pp.265-280

Patton, V. (2001). Curbing Interstate Air Pollution: The Clean Air Act Should Be Amended to More Effectively Address Regional Air Pollution Problems. Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy, Vol.16; pp.180-2046

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