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U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20460
. On the Air • Public Hearings
(571 Where we are
1973 in air pollution control
The countdown for cleaner air is
under way. The 1970 amendments to the Clean Air Act broadened and accelerated the Nation's earlier air pollution control program. The law established a new strategy for air pollution control and established new timetables for action.
The law reaffirmed that State and local governments have the primary responsibility to control air pollution. The 1970 amendments also laid the foundation for a cooperative Federal-State program and strengthened the Federal government's role in air pollution control.
The first phase of the countdown began on April 30, 1971, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) establ hed national ambient air quality standards for the six most common air pollutants—sulfur oxides, particulates, carbon monoxide, photochemical oxidants, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides. (See Appendix A.)
The law required each State to hold public hearings to adopt an “implementation plan” to meet the air quality standards and to submit that plan to EPA for review and approval.
EPA was required to either approve the State plan, or send it back for improvement. EPA completed its review on schedule and, on May 31, 1972, approved the first of the State plans that met Federal requirements.
Thus began phase two of action for clean air under the 1970 law. The States now have until mid-1975 (1977
under certain circumstances) to meet the first of "primary" air quality standards that establish how clean the air must be to safeguard human health. Within a "reasonable time" after 1975, the States must meet “secondary” standards, which are usually more stringent than primary standards and establish how clean the air must be to prevent damage to clothes, buildings, metals, vegetation, animals, etc.
(EPA continues to study the effects of air pollutants on public health and welfare, and is authorized to revise national ambient air quality standards and to issue standards for other pollutants. If a revised or new standard is issued, the entire process—public hearings, adoption of implementation plans, EPA review and enforcement-must be undertaken anew.)
Each State implementation plan details the actions the State is already taking, or intends to take, within the deadlines set by both the Clean Air Act and EPA regulations. Each implementation plan is, in effect, a commitment by the State to the public that it will do whatever is necessary to achieve cleaner air, as required by Federal law, within specified time periods.
The public's stake in this commitment is enormous, for air pollution is the single greatest environmental threat to public health and well-being.
Recognizing this, literally thousands of citizens participated in the public hearings held by the States before they adopted their implementation plans. In
addition, thousands of citizens, individually and more often through voluntary civic organizations, have taken part in hearings, meetings, workshops, educational and even political activities to broaden public understanding of air pollution and to stimulate government and industry action for cleaner air. Indeed, citizen concern and citizen action helped generate the new air pollution control laws, both Federal and State, that now must be carried out.
Citizen organizations working for cleaner air have served notice that they intend to accept the invitation of Congress to participate in the implementation of these laws.
EPA encourages this citizen participation. Law enforcement cannot be effective without citizen support, cooperation and involvement. This is especially true in pollution control, which often requires changes in attitudes and values in order to change the pattern of pollution and business as usual. Organized citizen groups, with their healthy skepticism, have demonstrated their great capacity to focus public attention
on what must be done to combat air pollution, and to prod and stir government and industry to action.
As the Federal agency charged by law with enforcement of the Clean Air Act, EPA welcomes citizen support and prodding. And to make this process as productive possible
to produce cleaner air on schedule-EPA offers these guidelines for responsible citizen action.
Designed for groups already organized and active in pursuit of cleaner air, this booklet assumes that a citizen group or coalition already has some experience and sophistication in air pollution control. Some groups may find this too elementary; some, not elementary enough. For groups or individuals not yet involved in air pollution control, suggestions on how to organize and how to get involved are found in the publications listed in Appendix F.
But whether novice or veteran, citizen groups are vital cogs in the enforcement machinery now in motion to produce cleaner air.
What you can do
Concerned citizen organizations can
undertake three basic missions in the enforcement of the Clean Air Act:
1. They can see that State and local air pollution control agencies have adequate funds, staff and legal authority to carry out the State's implementation plan.
2. They can support the control agencies and encourage and stimulate polluters to move steadily and speedily toward compliance with requirements of the implementation plan.
3. They can keep the public informed, on a continuing basis, of the progress of the pollution control program.
Responsible, informed citizen groups are uniquely qualified to carry out these missions. Independent of both government and industry, they can objectively evaluate the performance of both. They can focus public attention on what is and what is not being done. And because they reflect and articulate the public's desire for cleaner air, they attract press attention.
A dedicated citizen group or coalition thus is a potent force for action.
Assume now that you are a member of a citizens' organization seeking to clean up the air in your community. What should your group do to carry out the missions listed earlier?
ments and become thoroughly familiar with them:
• Your State's approved implementation plan. (Available from the State or local control agency.)
• EPA's comments on the plan. (Available from your State or local control agency or EPA.)
The text of the Clean Air Act of 1970. (Available from EPA.)
• The texts of your State and local air pollution control laws and regulations. (Available from the control agencies.)
• An inventory of major sources of air pollution in your community. (Available from the State or local agency. Access to this data may require special computer runs.)
• EPA's requirements for implementation plans as published in the Federal Register, August 14, 1971, and revised on October 23 and December 30, 1971, December 9, 1972, January 12, 1973 and subsequently. (Available from EPA.)
If it hasn't already done so, your citizen group should establish good working relationships with the director and staff of the State and local control agency. (Many States have delegated authority for air pollution control to local governments, but the State remains responsible under the Clean Air Act for assuring that appropriate action is taken.) State and local control agencies are the prime sources of information on local control problems. Citizen groups need their help and cooperation
Get informed First, your group needs certain basic information. If you haven't already done so, secure the following docu