Clean Air Act: Overall Air Pollution Reducing


The policy issue to be analyzed is the Clean Air Act. It is a special law adopted in 1970, which aims at correcting the situation with harmful emissions into the atmosphere and was designed to reduce the overall level of air pollution (Lashof et al., 2014). The Act solves actual problems, and the purpose of the analysis is to determine the impact of the legal provisions on the current environmental protection system. Also, the Act touches on quite critical social issues, and the significance of this topic is high. Therefore, the key questions to be answered by the analysis are the problems of stakeholder interaction with state authorities, the consequences of the law implementation, as well as the discussion of alternative measures that also apply to the topic regarding environmental protection.

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Background of the Issue

The problem of environmental pollution and, in particular, the air became especially urgent after the emergence of large industrial enterprises operating on harmful fuel and emitting toxic gases into the atmosphere. In this regard, in 1970, the American government adopted a relevant law called the Clean Air Act that became one of the first documents explicitly aimed at protecting the environment (Lashof et al., 2014). The social context in which the policy existed was complicated by the fact that some provisions of the law had a direct impact on the country’s monopolists and implied a rather severe punishment for the violation of certain provisions. Later, several amendments to the Act were adopted, for example, in 1990, when some paragraphs of the law were strengthened (Durmuşoğlu, 2017). The current policy of modern America also has a direct bearing on the issues of environmental protection and, in particular, the fight against air pollution. The programs of fighters for a clean atmosphere are primarily based on the provisions of the Act and aim at solving the same issues as before.

The advantage of the modern policy connected with the protection of the planet’s air from pollution by harmful emissions is, of course, evident. Because of the global spread of industrial enterprises operating on toxic fuels, a large number of harmful emissions regularly enter the atmosphere. According to Linn, Mastrangelo, and Burtraw (2014), the task of stakeholders is to limit the amount of these emissions by imposing restrictions, for example, on the use of certain fuels. Nevertheless, sometimes the current policy entails some shortcomings that are felt primarily in the country’s economy. For example, a significant reduction in the consumption of environmentally hazardous but efficient and economical fuel adversely affects the financial benefits for the state budget. Key stakeholders who are directly involved in the policy are accredited program participants, representatives of the Congress, and voluntary groups that monitor compliance with the provisions of the Act (Lashof et al., 2014). Therefore, the resource base of this law is quite significant.

Analysis of the Policy

To avoid significant financial losses for the country’s budget and at the same time prevent severe air pollution, it is essential to pay attention to alternative strategies for achieving the goals. In addition to various prohibitions and restrictions, it is possible to try to resort to other ways of regulating the current environmental situation. The following Table 1 contains potential alternative strategies aimed at solving the issue of air pollution and criteria for their effectiveness:

Table 1. Alternative Strategies to Solve the Problem of Air Pollution and Criteria of Their Efficiency.

Strategy Criterion
The search for alternative and environmentally safe sources of fuel Cost-effective production and the absence of costs for procurement
The development of new ways of work with modern high-tech equipment The absence of costs for expensive processing equipment
Involving new active and interested participants who can contribute to the development of the idea of protection Fast terms for implementing the tasks and saving money through efficient resource allocation and competent planning

The first strategy can become quite useful; it is significant to take appropriate measures to successfully organize work to find a more economical and, what is the most important, environmentally safe fuel. The cost of these activities, undoubtedly, will be high, but the result can be favorable. About improving the equipment used for fuel combustion and processing of hazardous materials, its improvement can be a perfect alternative to the existing policy. However, this work, undoubtedly, requires additional investment, and it is impossible to predict the a-hundred-percent favorable result. Finally, attracting active and talented workers is another measure that should not be neglected. A qualified and competent approach to work can help to achieve positive dynamics while reducing the level of harmful emissions to the atmosphere. The government can try to implement all these alternative strategies or find the best compromises among them. In any case, they all have to do with environmental protection, and accurately planned work is a successful and significant step in the fight against dangerous air pollution.

Recommendations for the Issue

Based on the analysis of the policy, it can be assumed that an alternative strategy to attract new talented professionals and the competent management of existing resources are the least risky and at the same time least costly strategies. The fact is that many industries, for example, coal mining requires certain conditions regulated by the Act to be met (Sueyoshi & Goto, 2013). Accordingly, carefully thought out work to find possible ways to eliminate the effects of coal pollution or a competent assessment of a particular industry state can help to change things for the better.

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Strategically organized management and encouragement of active work on the promotion of new technologies can become beneficial factors in the struggle for clean air. If the whole process is appropriately organized and talented employees can have the freedom to realize their ideas, the benefits for both the economy and the environment can be significant. Nevertheless, in the process of implementing a chosen alternative, there may be some barriers:

Table 2. Difficulties in Involving Talented and Active Employees.

Activity Barrier
Attracting interested employees by promoting specific ideas The lack of competent managers and indifference to the problem
The development of innovative strategies The lack of sufficient financing
Encouragement of active work through rewards and promotion The lack of prospects because of ignoring employees’ successful activities

Methods to evaluate the implementation of such a strategy can include the calculation of the overall level of savings, as well as interviews with stakeholders to see if they are satisfied with the quality of the work. If employees are dissatisfied with how activities are organized to eliminate the effects of air pollution, it means that the policy needs to be reviewed. For example, the Clean Water Act that has similar objectives and is designed to address the problem of water pollution has undergone some changes since its signing (Ryan, 2016). Accordingly, if any shortcomings in the law on air protection are revealed, the Act should be changed, and the process of work should be organized as efficiently as possible.

Discussion of Implications for Practice

Based on the analysis and recommendations presented, potential measures to improve the policy may be necessary enough to protect the environment and carry social benefits. If it is about the limitations of the analysis, there may be some difficulties in assessing the current level of work organization. As Isen, Rossin-Slater, and Walker (2017) note, it may take quite some time and money to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the current state of the air and assess the work being done. Therefore, a detailed evaluation may require substantial funding. The consequences of such an analysis for practice can be essential as it provides an opportunity to develop additional strategies according to the existing experience. Also, scientific research and other educational activities can be conducted with the help of the analysis for a more detailed study of the topic.


Thus, the consequences of implementing alternative strategies and the results of stakeholders’ work can be useful if appropriate measures are developed reasonably. In future research that is relevant to the topic of air protection, attention can be paid to a detailed description of all alternative methods that can be efficient. The policy analysis can be conducted in more detail, for example, from additional ways to draw attention to the issue.


Durmuşoğlu, A. (2017). Effects of Clean Air Act on patenting activities in chemical industry: Learning from past experiences. Sustainability, 9(5), 862.

Isen, A., Rossin-Slater, M., & Walker, W. R. (2017). Every breath you take – every dollar you’ll make: The long-term consequences of the Clean Air Act of 1970. Journal of Political Economy, 125(3), 848-902.

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Lashof, D., Yeh, S., Bryk, D., Carter, S., Doniger, D., Murrow, D., & Johnson, L. (2014). Cleaner and cheaper: Using the Clean Air Act to sharply reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants, delivering health, environmental, and economic benefits. New York, NY: Natural Resources Defence Council.

Linn, J., Mastrangelo, E., & Burtraw, D. (2014). Regulating greenhouse gases from coal power plants under the Clean Air Act. Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, 1(1/2), 97-134.

Ryan, M. (2016). Two Important New Clean Water Act Rulings. Natural Resources & Environment, 30(3), 55-57.

Sueyoshi, T., & Goto, M. (2013). Returns to scale vs. damages to scale in data envelopment analysis: An impact of US Clean Air Act on coal-fired power plants. Omega, 41(2), 164-175.


Table 3. The List of Alternatives and the Degrees of Their Effectiveness.

Alternative Strategy Degree of Effectiveness
The search for economical fuel Costs reduction
High-tech equipment Environmental safety for the air
Involving active and talented workers Effective implementation of initiatives
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