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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Clean Air Act: A Summary of the Act and Its Major Requirements

James E. McCarthy
Specialist in Environmental Policy

Claudia Copeland
Specialist in Resources and Environmental Policy

Larry Parker
Specialist in Energy and Environmental Policy

Linda-Jo Schierow
Specialist in Environmental Policy

This report summarizes the Clean Air Act and its major regulatory requirements. It excerpts, with minor modifications, the Clean Air Act chapter of CRS Report RL30798, Environmental Laws: Summaries of Major Statutes Administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, which summarizes a dozen environmental statutes that form the basis for the programs of the Environmental Protection Agency. This report will be updated at the end of each Congress, or sooner if Congress enacts a law that substantively changes the statute.

The principal statute addressing air quality concerns, the Clean Air Act was first enacted in 1955, with major revisions in 1970, 1977, and 1990. The Act requires EPA to set health-based standards for ambient air quality, sets deadlines for the achievement of those standards by state and local governments, and requires EPA to set national emission standards for large or ubiquitous sources of air pollution, including motor vehicles, power plants, and other industrial sources. In addition, the Act mandates emission controls for sources of 187 hazardous air pollutants, establishes a capand- trade program to limit acid rain, requires the prevention of significant deterioration of air quality in areas with clean air, requires a program to restore visibility impaired by regional haze in national parks and wilderness areas, and implements the Montreal Protocol to phase out most ozone-depleting chemicals.

This report describes the Act’s major provisions and provides tables listing all major amendments, with the year of enactment and Public Law number, and cross-referencing sections of the Act with the major U.S. Code sections of the codified statute.

Date of Report: January 6, 2011
Number of Pages: 27
Order Number: RL30853
Price: $29.95

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