Term Paper: Environmental Regulations in Public

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[. . .] For a minimum of one of the criteria air pollutants, many urban areas are categorized as 'non-attainment areas'. "In-attainment" refers to those areas that fulfill the standards. The second cluster of pollutants includes hundreds of pollutants and these pollutants are called dangerous air pollutants or air toxics. These pollutants are linked with specific sources and are straight away dangerous to human health.

While some produce other health and environmental problems, some others can lead to cancer. For people living close to big industrial facilities or in largely polluted urban corridors, the danger is uppermost. The list of toxics released into the air includes some common names, but the list is a long one. For instance, benzene is a powerful cancer-causing substance. About 1.6% of benzene is present in the gasoline sold in the United States. Gasoline is responsible for eighty-five percent of human contact with benzene. Another example is mercury. Mercury is a metal found in small amounts in coal and is emitted to the air when the coal is burned. Incinerators burning garbage also release Mercury. According to environmental protection specialists, mercury that is added to the environment by human activity is more worrisome than the naturally occurring mercury in the environment. (Background Sheet: The Clean Air Act)

Another characteristic of air-toxics regulation is aimed at the unexpected and potentially disastrous chemical accident. From 1982 to 1986, accidental releases of toxic chemicals in the U.S. brought about 309 deaths, 11,341 injuries, and the evacuation of 464,677 people from homes and jobs. The most revealed accidental release of dangerous chemicals occurred at Bhopal, India, in the year 1984, when 3,000 were killed and above 200,000 were injured. Areas of non-attainment for criteria pollutants have been categorized according to the degree of pollution. The five classes are from marginal to extreme levels.

The 1990 Clean Air Act makes use of these classes to tailor cleanup necessities to the harshness of the pollution and lay down realistic time limits for attaining cleanup objectives. If time limits are neglected, the law permits more time to clean up, but typically a non-attainment area that has neglected a cleanup time limit must fulfill the tighter requirements laid down for more polluted areas. States perform most of the planning for cleaning up criteria air pollutants by means of a system of permits and inspections to ensure power plants, factories, and other pollution sources fulfill their cleanup objectives.

A range of cleanup methods is required in non-attainment areas, many of which involve motor vehicles. Clean fuels, clean new vehicles, improved maintenance programs for vehicles on the road, and mass transportation may be necessary. Further as the pollution gets poorer, more pollution controls are needed for lesser sources of pollution. The regulatory program for air toxics in the 1990 amendments imitates a completely new approach. The new law provides names of 189 toxic air pollutants. They are carcinogens, mutagens, or reproductive toxins, and their sources are mostly specific industries. EPA must recognize classes of the major sources of these chemicals and then develop 'maximum achievable control technology' or MACT standards for each class over the next 10 years. These standards are to be founded on the best control technologies that have been proved in these industrial categories. State and local air pollution agencies will have the principal accountability to confirm industrial plants fulfill the standards. (Background Sheet: The Clean Air Act)

In deciding the MACT standards, EPA refers to only pollution control equipment and pollution prevention methods, such as replacing nontoxic chemicals for toxic ones presently in use. The 1990 law prefers setting standards that industry must attain, instead of commanding equipment that industry must put in. This suppleness permits industry to expand its own inexpensive means of decreasing air toxics emissions and still fulfill the objectives of the act. The law includes exclusive incentives for industries to decrease their emissions early, instead of waiting for federal standards. Sources that decrease emissions by 90% or more before the MACT standards go into effect have six additional years to meet the terms with them. Other parts of the Clean Air Act set up a program for the avoidance of unintentional discharges of air toxics from the industrial plants and generate a Chemical Safety Board to look into unintentional discharges of air toxics from industrial plants.

The Clean Air Act sets up enforcement methods that can be used to make polluters comply with the laws and regulations. Enforcement methods are inclusive of citations for violators of the law, fines, and even jail terms. The shrewd violation of roughly every requirement is at present a crime offense. EPA and state and local governments are accountable for enforcement of the Clean Air Act, but if they do not implement the law, members of the public can sue EPA or the states to get action. Citizens also can prosecute violators in addition to any action taken by EPA or state or local governments. All enforcement actions had to be managed through the courts during the periods before the 1990 Clean Air Act. But, presently, EPA has the power to punish violators without going to court, in some cases. Pacing up fulfillment with the law and plummeting court time and cost are the intentions of this new power. (Background Sheet: The Clean Air Act)

Clean Air Act has laid down auto emission standards and insisted the manufacturers to radically decrease the quantity of pollutants released from new cars. Enforcement authority was allocated to the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA. While employing tighter limitations on coal burning and other pollution sources, a 1977 amendment postponed certain time limits for attaining specified auto emission levels. Imposition of more severe requirements on urban areas and compulsory use of cleaner burning fuels are the given in a 1990 amendment. The 1970 Clean Air Act insists EPA to develop and enforce regulations to safeguard the general public from contact with airborne contaminants that are known to be dangerous to human health.

In 1970, the Clean Air Act was made federal law. In the formation of the act, the federal government charges the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with enforcing the CAA in 49 states except California. But, the EPA has permitted the individual states to choose accountability for fulfillment with and regulation of the CAA within their own borders in exchange for funding. The election is not compulsory and in some cases states have preferred to not agree to accountability for enforcement of the act and force the EPA to presume those responsibilities. In order to take over fulfillment with the CAA the states must write and submit a State Implementation Plan or SIP to the EPA for endorsement. The SIP must meet the bare minimum. The SIP turns out to be the state's legal guide for local enforcement of the CAA. (Clean Air Act)


The points addressed by the Clean Air Act or CAA are the throughway movement of air pollution, global air pollution, permits, enforcement, time limits, and public contribution. For every specific air pollutant, the CAA sets primary and secondary standards. While the secondary standard is founded on possible environmental and property damage, the primary standard guards human health. The CAA covers the following pollutants as main or criteria pollutants: ozone, sulfur dioxide or SO2, particulate matter, lead, nitrogen oxide or NOx, and carbon monoxide or CO. In order to decrease pollution from mobile sources, an all-inclusive approach to be taken up, like advancing cleaner cars, trucks, and buses; setting up inspection and maintenance -- I/M programs; and developing regulations for off-road vehicles.

On human health and the environment, automobiles can have many threatening harmful effects. The choices we make about the vehicles we buy, how we drive them, how we refill them, and how we preserve and mend them can influence the air we inhale, the water we drink, wildlife habitat, natural resources, and Earth's protective atmosphere. We can work jointly to enhance air quality as more people become conscious of the pollution automobiles generate, and the straightforward actions and options they can make to thwart this pollution. (Background on Air Pollution)


Background on Air Pollution. Retrieved from http://www.nsc.org/ehc/mobile/acback.htm Accessed on 28 May 2005

Background Sheet: The Clean Air Act. 4 November, 2000. Retrieved from http://www.deq.state.la.us/assistance/educate/readdat4.htm Accessed on 28 May 2005

Clean Air Act. Retrieved from http://www.answers.com/topic/clean-air-act Accessed on 28 May 2005

Economic aspects of sustainable development in India. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/esa/agenda21/natlinfo/countr/india/eco.htm Accessed on 28 May 2005

Millar. William. W. Planning Regulations. 13 September, 2000. Retrieved from http://www.apta.com/government_affairs/positions/aptatest/planningregs.cfm Accessed on 28 May 2005

PROACT Fact Sheet. Retrieved from http://www.afcee.brooks.af.mil/pro-act/fact/july00a.asp Accessed on 27 May 2005

Why should you be concerned about air pollution? Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/oar/oaqps/peg_caa/pegcaa01.html#topic1 Accessed on 27 May 2005

Whose Environment is it? January, 2000. Retrieved from http://members.tripod.com/~INDIA_RESOURCE/environ.html Accessed on 27 May 2005 [END OF PREVIEW]

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