Current Issues in U.S. Environmental Policy

By Paul R. Portney; A. Myrick Freeman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
Air and Water Pollution Policy

A. MYRICK FREEMAN III

BETWEEN 1970 and 1972 Congress passed the two major pieces of legislation that established air and water pollution control strategies for the 1970s. The new laws were the Clean Air Amendments of 1970 (CAA-70) and the Federal Water Pollution Control Amendments of 1972 (FWPCA- 72). They established new goals and standards for air and water quality, set deadlines for clean-up actions, and created new procedures and mechanisms for regulation and enforcement.

At the time of their passage these laws were viewed by many as landmarks in the battle for environmental protection. Yet the two sets of amendments have not been immune to major pressures for changes to deal with problems that have emerged since 1972. Congress has seen fit to postpone the deadlines for meeting auto emission standards, and at least in part in response to the recommendations of the National Commission on Water Quality, to modify or postpone the deadlines for meeting some of the requirements of the 1972 amendments.

The purpose of this chapter is to examine our experience with the Water Pollution Control Amendments and those portions of the Clean Air Amendments dealing with stationary sources, in the hope that such an examination might prove helpful in assessing recent and proposed changes in our basic air and water pollution control laws. We do not attempt a full- fledged evaluation of existing policies or a definitive judgment concerning their effectiveness. That would require a major research effort well beyond the scope of this chapter. Rather, we identify some of the major problems that have emerged during the Environmental Protection Agency's

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