Chapter 3 – The Clean Air Act: Successful but Slow


The Clean Air Act (CAA) employs cooperative federalism to regulate a range of air pollutants. EPA proposes National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) pursuant to which states prepare state implementation plans (SIPs). EPA has developed prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) increments to limit the pollution permitted by new sources in attainment areas provided they use best available control technology (BACT). New sources in non-attainment areas are permitted only if they install control technology with the lowest achievable emission rate (LAER) and obtain offsets to account for remaining pollution. New sources must also comply with technology-based new source performance standards (NSPS) for hazardous pollutants. Technology-forcing regulations apply to mobile sources where reductions are set per vehicle mile even in absence of the required technology. Regional air pollution crossing state borders requires other approaches such as the emission trading (cap and trade) used in the Acid Rain Trading Program.