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Air Quality Management in the United States
Expand national and multistate performance-oriented control measures to support local, state, and tribal efforts.
In our federal system of government, the states have been assigned a major role in determining policies needed to achieve air quality objectives and standards. This state role is supported by a philosophic commitment to federalism and a practical recognition that states have substantial administrative capacity, detailed knowledge of local environmental conditions, and understanding of the local political, economic, and social context—all of which equip them to craft policies that can gain local acceptance and be implemented effectively. However, because of the complexity and scale of the nation’s economy and the need to maintain open interstate commerce, control of emissions from the many sectors of the economy sometimes cannot be efficiently regulated at the local or state level. In addition, air pollution does not follow political boundaries, and many of the sources affecting a particular area may be outside a particular jurisdiction facing an air quality problem. For that reason, numerous measures that set nationwide emission standards have been promulgated by Congress and EPA. Examples of effective federally mandated emission-control programs include EPA’s on-road motor vehicle control program, the phase-out of lead in gasoline, and the acid rain control program. With regard to these national emission standards,
Emission-control measures promulgated and implemented by EPA have been effective in achieving substantial reductions in emissions of air pollutants on a national level (see Chapters 4, 5, and 6).
The existence of federally mandated emission-control measures has eased the burden of state and local authorities who prepare the attainment SIPs (see Chapter 3).
In addition to generating air quality benefits, the national emission-control programs have often provided the drive for technological advancements and, in some instances, have established consistent regulatory requirements for an entire emission-source sector (see Chapters 4 and 5).
The development of cap and trade has provided the AQM system with a mechanism for achieving substantial emission reductions at reduced costs (see Chapter 5).
In many instances, the net emission reductions achieved from the promulgation of emission standards that set a limit on the rate of emissions (as opposed to the total amount of emissions) from a vehicle, product, or facility have been substantially offset by concomitant increases in use, demand, or productivity (see Chapters 4 and 5).