The Clean Air Act

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In an effort to improve the lives of Americans, the United States Congress has enacted several legislative acts to reduce environmental pollutants. The motivation to take serious environmentally protective public policies came after 1948 when thick heavy smog covered the streets of Donora, Pennsylvania. The incident resulted in the death of 20 people with thousands more falling ill from the respiratory effects of the smog which carried yet unknown environmentally hazardous air pollutants from two factories in the city. This tragedy made the United States government aware that they needed to be concern about air pollution, and before the United Sates Congress passed the Clean Air Act, as we know it today, there were two previous acts that began to shape what now is a truly comprehensible Clean Air Act. In May of 1950 the first United States Technical Conference on Air Pollution was established, but it wasn’t until July 14, 1955 that Congress passed the first piece of legislation, the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955 (P.L. 84-159) signed by President Eisenhower. This first piece of legislation addressed pollution at its source and provided “research and technical assistance relating to air pollution control” (P.L. 159). It also assigned $5 million on annual funds for federal research on air pollution for the next five years. These funds had to be shared with states and educational institutions to assist in their own research on air pollution; by 1956, only $2 million of the approved $5 million were appropriated for research and technical assistance. The most influx of money was received in 1958 when Congress appropriated $4 million (Reitze). The Air Pollution Control Act of 1955 did not accomplish much as far as fixing air polluti... ... middle of paper ... ...utants (EPA). In addition, it mandated the removal of all ozone depleting substances as well as mandating a required permit program. This part of the amendment was called Clean Air Act Permitting Program (CAAPP). In this case permits would have to be attained by major sources of pollutants to operate. To have a successful implementation the 1990 amendment the EPA more tools for enforcement of these new regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency is undoubtedly the most influential and powerful agency in charge of protecting human and environmental health as well as writing and implementing regulations based on laws passed by Congress. The EPA is an agency that was created with the intent to meet public needs, express public values (Zaino 243) and prevent incidents such as the 1948 Donora Smog which was a catalyst to all of the Clean Air Acts enacted.

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