Rescuing the Clean Air Act from Obsolescence
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research No. 2
13 Pages Posted: 12 May 2011
Date Written: March 1, 2011
The efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to control greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act have pitted the EPA and some environmental groups against other environmental groups. It is worth understanding this conflict because it reveals a critical development that both the agency and the environmental groups would prefer to conceal: the forty-year-old Clean Air Act is no longer a sensible way to regulate large-volume conventional air pollutants such as ozone and particulate matter. Congress should replace the core of this venerable statute and its "state implementation plans" with an updated, market-based approach such as that proposed by the Breaking the Logjam project. Doing so would require legislators to take responsibility for choosing how fast to cut pollution and how to allocate costs. Congressional accountability would mean less power for the EPA and environmental groups – but better air quality and more economic growth.
Keywords: David Schoenbrod, Melissa Witte, EPA, Clean Air Act
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