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Environmental Law and Policy: Clean Air and Water

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1. Why is the Clean Air Act of 1970 viewed as relatively strong legislation compared with earlier legislation focused on air quality?

2. Comment on the significance of the following provisions or aspects of the CAA of 1970: national ambient air quality standards; SIPs; attainment and nonattainment regions; air pollution credits and permits; the basis of designation of a region as attainment or nonattainment.

3. What are the major policy aspects of the Clean Water Act?

4. What is the history and statutory basis for federal regulation of wetlands? What are the national permits? What are the origin and significance of the no net loss policy?

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This solution provides insight into environmental law and policy with respect to clean air and water. It touches on the concepts of the Clean Air Act of 1970, the Clean Water Act, and the regulation of wetlands. The solution is a total of 2031 words.

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1.- Why is the clean air Act of 1970 viewed as relatively strong legislation compared with earlier legislation focused on air quality?

In 1955, after many state and local governments had passed legislation dealing with air pollution, the federal government decided that this problem needed to be dealt with on a national level. This was the year Congress passed the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955, the nation's first piece of federal legislation on this issue. The language of the bill identified air pollution as a national problem and announced that research and additional steps to improve the situation needed to be taken. It was an act to make the nation more aware of this environmental hazard.
Eight years later, Congress passed the nation's Clean Air Act of 1963. This act dealt with reducing air pollution by setting emissions standards for stationary sources such as power plants and steel mills. It did not take into account mobile sources of air pollution which had become the largest source of many dangerous pollutants. Once these standards were set, the government also needed to determine deadlines for companies to comply with them. Amendments to the Clean Air Act were passed in 1965, 1966, 1967, and 1969. These amendments authorized the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) to set standards for auto emissions, expanded local air pollution control programs, established air quality control regions (AQCR), set air quality standards and compliance deadlines for stationary source emissions, and authorized research on low emissions fuels and automobiles.
By 1970, the issue needed to be addressed again. Although important legislative precedents had been set, the existing laws were deemed inadequate. Although technically an amendment, the Clean Air Act of 1970 was a major revision and set much more demanding standards. It established new primary and secondary standards for ambient air quality, set new limits on emissions from stationary and mobile sources to be enforced by both state and federal governments, and increased funds for air pollution research. It was soon discovered that the deadlines set were overly ambitious (especially those for auto emissions). To reach these standards in such a short period of time, the auto industry faced serious economic limitations and seemingly insurmountable technological challenges. Over the next decade, the legislation was once again amended to extend these deadlines and to mandate states to revise their implementation plans. Congress did not amend the Clean Air Act during the decade of the 1980s, in part because President Reagan's administration placed economic goals ahead of environmental goals. This is why it is viewed as relatively strong legislation compared to before this time.
2.-Comment on the significance of the following provisions or aspects of the CAA of 1970:
National ambient air quality standards: After the passage of the 1970 amendments, the federal government established National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for seven pollutants--paritculates, sulfur oxides, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone, hydrocarbons, and ...

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