The US Clean Air Act: Improving air quality and tracking greenhouse gas emissions?

- By:

Courtesy of Accruent

The US Clean Air Act is a federal law designed to reduce air pollution in order to improve the nation’s overall air quality. The intent of the federal law is to identify and reduce harmful substances that weaken the stratospheric ozone layer and continue to contribute to global climate change.

Many of these pollutants, refrigerant gases, or Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) can be found within companies, especially manufacturers, utility providers and facilities with equipment that utilize heating, ventilation, and refrigeration equipment (HVAC-R). Under the act and further legislation pending across the world, organizations must follow the regulations and requirements related to emissions management, tracking, and reporting or risk serious fines.

The U.S. Congress passed the U.S. Clean Air Act in 1963. Prior to its passage, there were other regulations aimed at improving the country’s air quality. They included the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955, the Air Quality Act of 1967, the Clean Air Act Extension of 1970 and the Amendments of 1977. In addition to the laws set forth in the 1963 Act, a number of amendments and extensions were added to address new areas linked to air pollution and to help states better comply with the law.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency oversees the U.S. Clean Air Act. Numerous issues are covered under the regulation, among them air pollution prevention and control; ozone protection; air quality and emission limits; requirements to prevent substantial deterioration of air quality; and stratospheric ozone protection.

While passed in 1963, the U.S. Clean Air Act was amended in 1990. Enhancements to the law extended efforts to control air pollutants. Among the 1990 amendments were acid rain controls; new auto gasoline reformulation regulations; implementation of a leak detection and repair program; new controls aimed at reducing interstate air pollution; establishment of a national permits program; requirements for attaining and maintaining national ambient air quality standards; stratospheric ozone and global climate protection; and provisions for enforcement.

A main goal of the U.S. Clean Air Act is to impose air quality standards by requiring permits for certain companies and enacting monitoring and reporting methods. Funding to U.S. states is also provided under the law for program implementation. Because most of the Act’s requirements are implemented on the state level, each state receives support from the federal government, including scientific research, studies and engineering design, to help in designing air quality control programs that meet their state’s particular needs.

The U.S. Clean Air Act clearly defines the role of the federal government and U.S. states when dealing with air quality measures. Among the areas addressed under the regulation are measures to control interstate air pollution, and leak detection and repair standards for commercial equipment that emits harmful substances.

Under the U.S. Clean Air Act, the country is working with consistent air quality standards. However, each state is responsible for maintaining the consistent requirements set forth in the federal law. U.S. states are responsible for the permitting process and for administering fines on companies that violates air pollution controls. U.S. states must also illustrate how they are meeting and enforcing the law.

Because of the U.S. Clean Air Act, the air quality in the United States will significantly recover over time as smog and air pollution is greatly reduced. By improving air quality, the health of all who live in the United States will be enhanced. On an ongoing basis, the act ensures that new problems will be properly addressed so our planet remains healthy for many years to come.

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