Since the Clean Air Act’s induction in 1963 under President Johnson, it has been up to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to research, create, and enforce regulations that protect humans from harmful air pollutants. The Clean Air Act was also the first major law in the US to include a provision for citizen suits, which allows a citizen to enforce the statute to another citizen, to a corporation, or to a government body. The amendment in 1970 took the mandate further, naming both industrial and moving sources of pollution along with noise pollution. In 1990, the EPA went further to itemize the growing issue of ozone protection in light of detected depletion, air quality in light of toxic air pollution, and acid deposition control in light of growing instances of acid rain. This amendment also authorized a permit program that required businesses to address the pollutants they release into the air by quantifying how much they are releasing and create a plan of action that will minimize them, while reporting their progress.
Weather conditions have lately made a turn for the worst, making irreversible changes in the world’s composition and its accessibility to resources. 2012 broke high temperature records across the country, with about 1/3rd of the nation experiencing temperatures above 100º while droughts, wildfires, and floods have increased in frequency and has cost the nation more than $100 billion! These events are also unhealthy for the youth and the elderly in the population, through heat exposure, air pollution, and the diseases carried by food, water, and insects.
Carbon pollution is the biggest driver of climate change, and the United States’ use of electricity and transportation, along with industry and commerce, make up 92% of our greenhouse gas emissions. Obama has taken another step forward with the Clean Air Act by directing the EPA to work with these industries, namely the power plants that did not have federal standards in place, to comply to his newly adopted standards, implementing renewable energy sources and making goals that will optimize energy efficiency. Obama and the EPA aim to fund clean energy technologies that will ultimately power millions of homes and create tens of thousands of jobs while reducing greenhouse gas pollutants, and to enforce the fuel economy standards for trucks, buses and vans that will reduce emissions by hundreds of millions of tons.
“Moving forward, the Obama Administration will help states, cities, and towns build stronger communities and infrastructure, protect the critical sectors of our economy as well as our natural resources, and use sound science to better understand and manage climate impacts.” A quote from the Climate Action Plan infographic that was posted on whitehouse.gov embodies the optimism that the Obama Administration has for our country’s part in minimizing Carbon pollution and its pollutants. They also hope to set an example in the world, encouraging the other economies in the world to address and take action in light of imminent climate change.