Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act

The Clean Air act of 1970 is a US law that sets limits and regulates air emissions. It’s the law that gave the Environmental protection agency (EPA) the right to set standards as to air quality. The NAAQS (National Ambient Air Quality Standards) was put in place to protect the public from too much air pollution.

By 1975 every state was to have implemented versions of the Clean Air Act. Most were unable to do this and the act was amended in 1977 and again in 1990. At this time, 2011, a clearer picture has emerged as to the reasoning behind this much-needed law. It is costly but it is necessary and much has been done to improve the quality of the air, and much is left to be done.

When assessing the cost of the Clean Air Act one must see both sides of the issue: The time and money it takes for manufacturers to change their ways and means of creating energy needed in their factories against the health risk and cost to individuals that must suffer the consequences of dirty air. Polluted air that is/was directly related to the type of fuel being used is at the core of the problem. This cannot be changed overnight nor was it changed in the five years from 1970 to1975. Today, more than ever, solutions to the problem of air pollution are being proposed.

Coal which is necessary and needed is a big air polluter and it is also the only means of livelihood for a great many people. To suddenly be without this is impossible. Therefore the only solution, some say, is to produce a cleaner coal. That is easier said than done. Coal is a fossil fuel and when burned it produces residue that contaminates the air. It was not a problem at first and no one seemed to mind that chimneys and smokestacks spewed out pollutants indiscriminately.

The truth is it was not a problem at first for those utilizing the coal in their factories but it was a problem for those who had to go underground and dig it out. It shortened their life spans and damaged their lungs and many died young from silicosis. They were willing to pay that price to get the money to buy food and to keep their families warm.

Hopefully solutions are being introduced and many Clean Air Act policies are being put into practice. Energy from the sun, wind, and from the ocean is now being utilized as a cleaner energy source and is slowly being introduced as a viable source of future energy. However, it too is not cheap. The price of solar panels for residential heating is out of reach of most families, even if the sun were to shine every day in their geographical area.

Windmill farms that top roofs are another consideration fraught with difficulties: the wind must be a constant source of energy, birds and other flying animals find these quite unfriendly when they attempt to land on them, and overall lots of citizens complain of their unsightliness.

What then we ask is a world to do when the air, water and soil is being polluted and left to ruin? What about the children of the future? How will they keep warm and how will they find the energy to turn the wheels of progress and what laws and regulations will they make to protect their children of the future? All these answers are blowing in the wind and hopefully answers will come if enough people listen to the message. There is hope. A few were listening back in 1970 when the Clean Air Act came into existence; but not enough.