• The Clean Air Act

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    The Clean Air Act is the federal law that regulates air emissions from stationary and mobile sources. This law authorizes EPA to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) to protect public health and welfare and to regulate emissions of hazardous air pollutants. The Clean Air Act was originally enacted in 1970 and was amended in 1977 and 1990.

    Air quality has significantly improved and ozone levels have decreased 30 percent since 1980, and EPA data shows the trend continuing. America’s air today is cleaner than it has been in generations.

    Areas of significant interest of the Clean Air Act include:

    • Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) – The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 required EPA to develop standards for toxic air pollutants that require the application of air pollution reduction measures known as maximum achievable control technology. EPA is required to develop and implement a program for assessing risks remaining after facilities have implemented the standards.
    • Residual Risk – EPA is required to develop and implement a program for assessing risks remaining after facilities have implemented the MACT standards. EPA is required to issue regulations to reduce any residual risks in order to protect the public health with an "ample margin of safety."
    • New Source Review (NSR) – a regulatory permitting program that began in the 1970s as a relatively simple program focused on new and substantially rebuilt industrial plants. Over time, this once simple program has become a maze of confusing and often contradictory regulatory guidance. AFPM continues to believe that the NSR reforms are needed.
    • NAAQS – National Ambient Air Quality Standard establishes maximum pollution concentration levels to protect public health and welfare from harmful levels of pollutants. Pollutants covered by the NAAQS are nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds (which are precursors to ground-level ozone), sulfur dioxide, fine particulate, sodium oxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and lead.

      AFPM opposes the proposed tightening of the ozone NAAQS.  There is no scientific justification for lowering the standard beyond the level EPA began implementing in 2004.  Neither the 2008 review nor the more recent ozone studies justify lowering the standard based on the health effects of exposure.  The proposed tightening of the ozone standard would greatly increase the number of non-attainment areas and make it increasingly difficult to permit new facilities or modify existing facilities in non-attainment areas.