The an act was passed in the

The environment suffers from our selfish
consumption. We enjoy consumption to the point of excess that we have no longer
shown any concern for the nation we live in. The Earth has done more than an
adequate job to provide the resources essential for our survival, but we have not
been grateful nor have we cared for it the way we should be. And although it
took some time, eventually we realized the need for some sort of regulations
and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was created, and their first
policy took place in the 1950s.

            Although
the environmental interest of the government stretches back to the 1900s, and
an act was passed in the mid-1950s, it was only until the 1970s when citizens
became consciously aware of the importance of the Earth and the environment.
April 22nd, 1970 marks the first Earth Day, which eventually led to
the creation of the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since the EPA’s role
lies in intervening in the economy in order to protect the environment, there
were various acts that it developed and implemented over the years (Ginsberg,
2014). The U.S EPA’s first act was the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955. This
version was modified and I assume will continue to be modified by the EPA
depending on what they deem is most important. Nonetheless, the last official
version of the CAA is the Clean Air Act of 1990, whose goal is to regulate air
emissions from stationary and mobile sources (EPA, 2017).

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            In
order for the CAA to go from being simply a bill to a federal law, it had to
undergo a certain process known as the policy-making process. This process
begins the agenda setting, which determines a problem that has become a matter
of public concern. According to “Origins of the Clean Air Act: a New
Interpretation,” various air pollution episodes motivated the implementation of
this act. First, on October 1948, the Donora Smog incident occurred resulting in
twenty deaths in Pennsylvania. Then, on December 1952, the London Fog disaster resulted
in about 3,000 deaths in the United Kingdom (Ahlers, 2015). Both of these acts resulted
in public concern since they “reflected a general historical pattern of
environmental disasters leading to federal legislative action (Ahlers, 2015).”

            After
identifying the problem, a plan needs to be developed. This is the second stage
of the policy making process, and it is known as policy formulation. First of
all, the Clean Air Act of 1970 was not the first policy passed that dealt with
air pollution; there were other laws that preceded it. The first act was the Air
Pollution Control Act of 1955, and it was regarded as a milestone in the
history of air pollution law (Ahlers, 2015). Congress permitted various
secretaries, including the Secretary of Health, to take action on the issue. Furthermore,
Congress granted the Surgeon General permission to prepare research programs
for developing methods to eliminate and reduce air pollution. Eight years later,
the Clean Air Act of 1963 was passed that was implemented to “improve,
strengthen, and accelerate programs for the prevention and abatement of air
pollution.” Then in 1970, the Clean Air Act was modified once more to mean, “An
Act to amend the Clean Air Act to provide for a more effective program to
improve the quality of the Nation’s air.” Lastly, in 1990, the Act was modified
one last time. Named the Clean Air Act of 1990, it’s “An Act to amend the Clean Air Act to provide for attainment and
maintenance of health protective national ambient air quality standards, and
for other purposes (Hobby, 2014).” After all these policies were formulated
they were regulated by federal agencies.

            The regulation by federal agencies
falls under the third step of the policy-making process, the policy adoption. In
the case of the Clean Air Act, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency is in
charge of making changes and modifications to the regulation. Just as a
legislature would undergo a process to pass a law, an agency goes through a
similar process. In the case of EPA, the first step they went through was
proposing the CAA. Research took place and the proposal was listed in the
Federal Register, so the public could consider it and send their opinion. Then,
after considering the comments of the citizens, they issue a final rule. The
third, and last, step was codifying the regulation in the Code of Federal Regulations therefore making it official. (EPA,
2017)  

            The fourth step of the policy-making
process is policy implementation. For the Clean Air Act, its implementation is
generally split between the U.S EPA and the state governments. Moreover, within
each state there is a branch of the EPA whose jurisdiction is that state only. Anyhow,
due to the division, federal agencies set minimum standards that states are to
enforce in their own way (Ballotpedia Staff, 2016). One of the most important standards every state has to meet is ensuring
the air quality for six air pollutants (ground-level ozone, sulfur dioxide,
particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and lead) reaches National
Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). In order to accomplish this, the EPA has
learned to work with stakeholders and government partners to create better and
more efficient programs. Depending on the type of agreements that need to be
made, EPA will use both formal and informal ways of engaging with stakeholders.
Furthermore, the U.S. EPA also has voluntary partnership programs that work
together with regulatory programs to protect the environment and public health.
These programs have helped businesses, governments, and the public. They also
have additional benefits like reducing oil imports, and saving consumer money
(EPA, 2017). Notwithstanding, the U.S. EPA holds the largest amount of
responsibility in trying to maintain the atmosphere as clean as possible. And,
according to CBS news, California came out as number one in the top states with
the worst air quality. This shows that the California Environmental Protection
Agency (Ballotpedia, 2016) has to do a better job at controlling the emissions
released from vehicles and other mobile or stationary sources. (CBS News,
2017).

            The last and final step of the
policy-making process is policy evaluation. This has to do with the effect the
policy has on the citizens, and if it’s received negative or positive feedback.
Overall, the CAA reduced the ground-level ozone by 25%, lowered mercury gases
by 45%, reduced principal pollutants that cause acid rain, and sulfur dioxide, discontinued
the making of chemicals harmful to the ozone, and reduced lead in gasoline
which cut pollution by 92% since 1980. This shows a great improvement in the environment.
Furthermore, many industries have blossomed to prevent and reduce pollution from
factories, cars and power plants. And along with industries come the creation
of new jobs (EPA, 2017). For instance, the development of the electric car was
done in attempt to lower greenhouse emissions, and it also offered a new
occupation to employ more people. This has proved incredibly beneficial since
there is no harm being done from electric car emissions, the more people
working, the more capital, and the greater the economy.

            In conclusion, the Clean Air Act was
established to prolong our Earth and to try and keep our ozone as
pollutant-free as possible. As citizens we might’ve taken advantage of the
Earth’s resources, but the U.S EPA is addressing as many issues as they can in
order to reverse some of the damage we’ve caused. And beginning in the 1900s
various regulations were passed to address the environmental issues the United
States was coursing through. The U.S EPA will not give up and will continue
doing all it can in order to protect the environment, the atmosphere, and
overall, our Earth.