Dan Farber recently posted on the subject at Legal Planet. Here's part of what he had to say:
No doubt we could design a more effective and efficient regulatory scheme if we were start over. But the Clean Air Act has nonetheless had a major impact. Here’s what EPA has to say on the subject — and remember, this is from the Trump EPA, which is no fan of regulation:
- Experience with the Clean Air Act since 1970 has shown that protecting public health and building the economy can go hand in hand.
- Clean Air Act programs have lowered levels of six common pollutants — particles, ozone, lead, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide — as well as numerous toxic pollutants.
- From 1970 to 2017, aggregate national emissions of the six common pollutants alone dropped an average of 73 percent while gross domestic product grew by 324 percent. This progress reflects efforts by state, local and tribal governments; EPA; private sector companies; environmental groups and others.
- The emissions reductions have led to dramatic improvements in the quality of the air that we breathe. Between 1990 and 2017, national concentrations of air pollutants improved over 75% for lead, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide; 56% for nitrogen dioxide (annual); and 22% for ozone. Particulate concentrations improved more than a third between 2000, when trends data begins for ultra-fine particles, and 2015.
For more on the history of the Act, see here.