A Primer: Air and Water Environmental Quality Standards in the United States
48 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2016
Date Written: January 27, 2016
How are environmental quality standards created, implemented, and enforced in the United States? The Clean Air Act calls on the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to set the acceptable ambient levels of pollution through the national ambient air quality standards, while leaving it to the states to decide how to obtain those pollution levels. In contrast, under the Clean Water Act, EPA promulgates national industry-wide standards with which polluters must comply, whereas the states are empowered to define acceptable ambient pollution levels in water bodies within their borders. What are the details, successes, and challenges to this approach?
This Article, designed as a resource for environmental law professors both domestically and abroad, addresses how environmental quality standards are created, implemented, and enforced in the United States. The answers to these questions are useful to those teaching U.S. environmental law and international scholars, especially in the European Union, who are faced with the challenge of creating new environmental quality standards under both national and EU directives. It must be noted that this project is complicated by the federal system within the country, and, thus, attention must be devoted to the federal-state relationship. In fact, the major relevant statutes, the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, were designed to use the federal system in order to implement their statutory objectives, and this Article is divided into two sections focusing on these two natural resources, air and water.
Keywords: water, air, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act
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