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What is the Clean Air Act?

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The Clean Air ActCalled by some legal experts the most powerful environmental law in the world, was enacted in 1970 at the birth of the environmental movement.

Since then, it has been the source of numerous groundbreaking regulations on air pollution, including soot, smog, mercury, and toxic chemicals that cause acid rain.

The Supreme Court’s decision on the West Virginia Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday is part of a larger court battle over whether and how much the Clean Air Act can be used to combat climate change. The result could put a handcuff on President Biden’s plan to reduce US global warming pollution.

The law aimed to combat rising air pollution rates in American cities, which are directly related to the harmful effects on human health.

It then asked the newly established Environmental Protection Agency to draft and regularly update national standards and regulations to control some pollutants already known to endanger human health. Instructed to. They contained carbon monoxide, lead, ground-level ozone, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide.

However, the Democratic-controlled parliament devised the law with the aim of giving the EPA greater flexibility in interpreting the law, assuming that it could be deployed to address environmental hazards that lawmakers had not yet considered. did.

And that’s what happened when the fear of global warming, already ubiquitous in the Earth’s atmosphere, but caused by increased emissions of carbon dioxide produced by the burning of fossil fuels, began to escalate. is.

The Clean Air Act does not explicitly instruct the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide. Rather, it is calling on the authorities more broadly to regulate pollutants that “endanger human health.” In 2007, the Supreme Court ordered the EPA to decide whether carbon dioxide fits the description, and in 2009, authorities concluded that it did.

The conclusion is that carbon dioxide can be legally defined as a pollutant, and the Clean Air Act that EPA regulates emissions primarily produced by gasoline vehicles and coal and gas-fired power plants. Prompted for the requirements of.

After failing to enact a climate change law through Congress, President Barack Obama turned to the Clean Air Act and used it to lift key restrictions on pollution of vehicles and power plants. The controversial rules aimed to transform the country’s economy by shifting Americans from gasoline cars to electric cars and from coal and gas-fired power plants to wind and solar power.

President Donald J. Trump has rolled back these measures, but Biden wants to revive and expand them.

A series of recent proceedings aimed to significantly limit the EPA’s authority to enact such rules using the Clean Air Act. While these incidents do not currently prevent the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide, they could significantly limit how far authorities can go to use their authority.

Instead of clearing the rules that essentially end the use of coal-fired power plants and petrol cars, the government can use the law to justify conservative regulations that reduce pollution slightly, but scientists Do not force economic change to say that it is necessary to fight climate change.

To do so, Congress needs to pass a new law.

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