What is Clean Air Act?

Legal Definition
The Clean Air Act is a United States federal law designed to control air pollution on a national level. It is one of the United States' first and most influential modern environmental laws, and one of the most comprehensive air quality laws in the world. As with many other major U.S. federal environmental statutes, it is administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in coordination with state, local, and tribal governments. Its implementing regulations are codified at 40 C.F.R. Subchapter C, Parts 50-97.

The 1955 Air Pollution Control Act was the first U.S federal legislation that pertained to air pollution; it also provided funds for federal government research of air pollution. The first federal legislation to actually pertain to "controlling" air pollution was the Clean Air Act of 1963. The 1963 act accomplished this by establishing a federal program within the U.S. Public Health Service and authorizing research into techniques for monitoring and controlling air pollution. In 1967, the Air Quality Act enabled the federal government to increase its activities to investigate enforcing interstate air pollution transport, and, for the first time, to perform far-reaching ambient monitoring studies and stationary source inspections. The 1967 act also authorized expanded studies of air pollutant emission inventories, ambient monitoring techniques, and control techniques.

Major amendments to the law, requiring regulatory controls for air pollution, passed in 1970, 1977 and 1990.

The 1970 amendments greatly expanded the federal mandate, requiring comprehensive federal and state regulations for both stationary (industrial) pollution sources and mobile sources. It also significantly expanded federal enforcement. Also, the Environmental Protection Agency was established on December 2, 1970 for the purpose of consolidating pertinent federal research, monitoring, standard-setting and enforcement activities into one agency that ensures environmental protection.

The 1990 amendments addressed acid rain, ozone depletion, and toxic air pollution, established a national permits program for stationary sources, and increased enforcement authority. The amendments also established new auto gasoline reformulation requirements, set Reid vapor pressure (RVP) standards to control evaporative emissions from gasoline, and mandated new gasoline formulations sold from May to September in many states.

Reviewing his tenure as EPA Administrator under President George H. Bush, William K. Reilly characterized passage of the 1990 Clean Air Act as his most notable accomplishment.

The Clean Air Act was the first major environmental law in the United States to include a provision for citizen suits. Numerous state and local governments have enacted similar legislation, either implementing federal programs or filling in locally important gaps in federal programs.
-- Wikipedia