Air pollution has long been one of the most significant negative impacts of industrial society. Smoggy cities lead to increased asthma rates and carbon emissions currently threaten the global environment. Under the Clean Air Act, and its various amendments, the Environmental Protection Agency is empowered to regulate American industry to minimize or eliminate the dangers posed by airborne contaminants. In 1990, Congress set up a cap-and-trade program to deal with emissions that caused acid rain and ozone depletion. It is a striking success.
Cry Wolf Quotes
We just don't have the technology to comply [with Clean Air Act regulations]….[not even with] technology on the horizon.
The people in this room have the same amount of lead in their blood as do the natives in New Guinea. If you take lead out of the air, you’ll still have it in your body.
The programs will cost billions of dollars with little if any derived benefit to the large users.
The effects include serious long-term losses in domestic output and employment, heavy cost burdens on manufacturing industries, and a resultant gradual contraction of the entire industrial base. The irony of this bleak scenario is that these economic hardships are borne with no real assurance they would be balanced by a cleaner, healthier environment.
Related Laws and Rules
EPA: “Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act: Second Prospective Study—1990-2020”
Clean Air Act benefits total more than $2 trillion.
Industry Opposition to Government Regulation
The real costs of specific regulations, in chart form.
The Going-Out-Of-Business Myth
OMB Watch debunks the cry wolf claims made against specific regulations, in chart form.
Jobs vs. The Environment: An Industry-Level Study
Four industries that operate under intense environmental regulatory scrutiny, but haven't lost jobs as a result.
Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act - 1990 to 2010
The monetizable benefits of the Clean Air Act are four times greater than the costs.
Backgrounders & Briefs
Demos looks at ten laws and rules that we take for granted.
This immense article is an intricately detailed history of leaded gasoline, from the industry's early cover-ups to their attempts to defeat EPA regulations.
First-person historical analysis of the leaded gasoline fight.
Political Economy Research Institute is a think tank focused on a variety of subjects such as diverse financial regulation, living wages and environmental protection.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is the agency that oversees auto and highway safety regulations, auto recalls, and CAFE standards.
Blue Green Alliance is an alliance of labor and environmental organizations.
Green for All is a leading environmental oranization focused on creating green jobs for low-income communities and people of color.