Pre1970 Legislation

The history of federally enacted air pollution legislation begins in 1955 with the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955. The act was narrow in scope because of the federal government's hesitation to encroach on states' rights; however, it was the first step toward identifying air pollution sources and its effects and laid the groundwork for the effective legislation and enforcement by regulatory agencies developed over the next 15 years. The act initiated the following [4]:

• Research by the U.S. Public Health Service on the effects of air pollution;

• Provision for technical assistance to the states by the federal government;

• Training of individuals in the area of air pollution;

• Research on air pollution control.

The Air Pollution Control Act of 1955 was amended in 1960 and 1962 (i.e., Air Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1960 and 1962) because of worsening conditions in urban areas due to mobile sources. Through these acts, Congress directed the Surgeon General to study the effect of motor vehicle exhausts on human health. A more formal process for the continual review of the motor vehicle pollution problem was included in the Clean Air Act of 1963, which provided, for the first time, federal financial aid for air pollution research and technical assistance [4]. The act supported state, regional, and local programs for the control and abatement of air pollution while reserving federal authority to intervene in interstate conflicts, thereby preserving the classical three-tier system of government. The act provided for [4]:

• Acceleration in the research and training program;

• Matching grants to state and local agencies for air pollution regulatory control programs;

• Developing air quality criteria to be used as guides in setting air quality standards and emissions standards;

• Initiating efforts to control air pollution from all federal facilities;

• Federal authority to abate interstate air pollution;

• Encouraging efforts by automotive companies and the fuel industries to prevent pollution.

The Clean Air Act of 1963 also provided for research authority to develop standards for sulfur removal from fuels, and a formal process for reviewing the status of the motor vehicle pollution problem. This, in turn, led to the Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act of 1965, which formally recognized the technical and economic feasibility of setting automotive emission standards. The act also gave the secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) the authority to intervene in intrastate air pollution problems of "substantial significance."

National Air Quality Control Act of 1967

The first federal legislation to impact stationary combustion sources was the National Air Quality Control Act of 1967. The act provided for a 2-year study on the concept of national emissions standards for stationary sources and was the basis for the 1970 legislative action. The provisions of the National Air Quality Control Act of 1967 included [4]:

• Establishment of eight specific areas in the United States on the basis of common meteorology, topography, and climate;

• Designation of air quality control regions (AQCRs) within the United States where evaluations were to be conducted to determine the nature and extent of the air pollution problem;

• Development and issuance of air quality criteria (AQC) for specific pollutants that have identifiable effects on human health and welfare;

• Development and issuance of information on recommended air pollution control techniques, which would lead to recommended technologies to achieve the levels of air quality suggested in the AQC reports;

• Requirement of a fixed time schedule for state and local agencies to establish air quality standards consistent with air quality criteria.

The states were allowed to set higher standards than recommended in the AQC reports; however, if a state did not act, the secretary of HEW had the authority to establish air quality standards for each air quality region. The states were given primary responsibility for action, but a very strong federal fallback authority was provided. Unfortunately, the federal program was not implemented according to the required time schedule because federal surveillance of the overall program was understaffed and the process to set up the AQCRs proved to be too complex; consequently, both President Nixon and Congress proposed new legislation in 1970.

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