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Environmental Law - Clean Air Act

percent federal passed pollution

In 1963, the first Clean Air Act was passed. While it was amended and strengthened in 1965 and 1967, much of the enforcement for controlling air pollution continued to rest with the individual states. A more comprehensive Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, and it was further fortified in 1977 and 1990. One of the longest and most complicated of the environmental laws, the Clean Air Act withholds federal highway funding to states that do not meet air quality standards.

Motor vehicles are the main source of air pollution. With the introduction of catalytic converters in 1975, auto emissions of hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide have been reduced by 90 percent and nitrogen oxides by 75 percent. State and federal environmental agencies can penalize, fine, and imprison those who violate the Clean Air Act. However, it is difficult to police polluters, and as a result, many who disobey the law go unpunished.

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