ISSUE: Clean Air Act

Since 2016, there have been almost 100 attacks on environmental regulations that were put in place to protect our public health and environment. A handful of these attacks have been on a piece of landmark legislation that, if weakened, will be detrimental to the health of communities across the country.

What’s the issue?

  • The current administration is making continual attacks on the Clean Air Act, risking our public health and economy in the process

Who’s involved?

  • The current administration
  • The Environmental Protection Agency
  • Congress
  • State and local regulators

What’s the history of this?

  • One of the first pieces of major environmental regulation in the U.S., passed almost unanimously in 1970, was the Clean Air Act (CAA)
  • The core purpose of the CAA is addressing pollutants that “endanger public health and welfare”
  • CAA regulates all sources (cars, buildings, industry, etc.) of air emissions and authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set air quality standards which states must meet
  • State and local governments also enforce CAA regulations with EPA oversight
  • CAA is one of the most expansive and effective air emission laws and dictates emission standards on things from our cars to smoke stacks
  • Examples of local action triggered by the CAA include State Implementation Plans, which Utah is executing multiple of because regions in the state are out of federal air quality standards set under the CAA

What’s happening now?

  • The current administration is doing everything in its power to rollback key parts of CAA while a respiratory-related public health crisis is raging throughout the world
  • For example, they are proposing a freeze on fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars, SUVs, and light-duty trucks, as well as a revoking of the California Waiver which would take away the promised state authority to create stronger standards
  • They are also refusing to tighten industrial regulations on PM2.5 – which is what Utah’s northern valley’s experience in the winter

What’s at stake?

  • Utah already has its struggles with air pollution, from wintertime PM2.5 to summertime ozone in the north and Uinta Basin, and weakening these emission rules will only exacerbate these problems
  • Poor air causes numerous health problems from asthma to lung damage
  • A heavily polluted city, like Salt Lake City, detracts new businesses from locating here, hurting our local and statewide economy
  • According to the American Lung Association, the Salt Lake City-Provo-Orem is #11 in the country for the worst ozone pollution and #7 for the worst short-term particle pollution, while the Logan region lands at #13 for short-term particle pollution
  • A report by the Natural Resource Defense Council finds that pollution reductions due to Clean Air Act programs, if untouched, will prevent up to 370,000 premature deaths in 2020, growing to up to 457,000 avoided premature deaths by 2030

How can I help?