Policy Evolution under the Clean Air Act

23 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2018 Last revised: 27 Dec 2018

See all articles by Richard Schmalensee

Richard Schmalensee

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Robert N. Stavins

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); Resources for the Future; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 24, 2018

Abstract

The U.S. Clean Air Act, passed in 1970 with strong bipartisan support, was the first environmental law to give the Federal government a serious regulatory role, established the architecture of the U.S. air pollution control system, and became a model for subsequent environmental laws in the United States and globally. We outline the Act’s key provisions, as well as the main changes Congress has made to it over time. We assess the evolution of air pollution control policy under the Clean Air Act, with particular attention to the types of policy instruments used. We provide a generic assessment of the major types of policy instruments, and we trace and assess the historical evolution of EPA’s policy instrument use, with particular focus on the increased use of market-based policy instruments, beginning in the 1970s and culminating in the 1990s. Over the past fifty years, air pollution regulation has gradually become much more complex, and over the past twenty years, policy debates have become increasingly partisan and polarized, to the point that it has become impossible to amend the Act or pass other legislation to address the new threat of climate change.

Keywords: Clean Air Act, air pollution, market-based instruments, emissions trading, cap-and-trade, pollution taxes, performance standards, technology standards

JEL Classification: Q54, Q58, Q40, Q48

Suggested Citation

Schmalensee, Richard and Stavins, Robert N., Policy Evolution under the Clean Air Act (December 24, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3288043 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3288043

Richard Schmalensee

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

Room E62-525
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-2957 (Phone)
617-258-6617 (Fax)

Robert N. Stavins (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-1820 (Phone)
617-496-3783 (Fax)

Resources for the Future

1616 P Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
21
Abstract Views
155
PlumX Metrics