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EPA Goal: Clean Air

By 2010 and thereafter, the air will be safe to breathe in every city and community and it will be clearer in many areas. Life in damaged forests and polluted waters will rebound as acid rain is reduced.

The first milestone for "safe" air in 2005 is the reduction in the number of metropolitan non-attainment areas to six from the current level of 60. That is, "safe" air will have the effect of reducing the number of people living in areas that do not meet the ambient standards to 45 million from today's level of 120 million. Implicit in this first milestone is the notion that safety levels are defined as the national ambient air standards established under the Clean Air Act. "Safe," of course, does not really mean "no risk.'' Also implicit in this milestone and consistent with the Air Act is the notion that success—for the year 2005—does not necessarily mean that all Americans will live in areas meeting the ambient standards.

The second milestone for clean air uses an emissions goal from a large source category as a measure of success. It addresses one particular pollutant, volatile organic compounds, from the largest known source category, motor vehicles, and calls for a 65 percent reduction by the year 2005. The milestone description also calls for meeting the relatively prescriptive fuel and vehicle requirements of the Clean Air Act. However, no milestones are established for NO x reduction or for stationary sources in general. Also, no specific emissions goals (other than a general call to meet existing ambient standards) are given for pollutants associated with other ambient air quality standards (e.g., particulates).

The third milestone for clean air on vehicle miles traveled is still under development. The fourth milestone addresses toxic emissions, as opposed to "conventional" pollution. It is a combined emissions-technology goal, calling for 174 categories of major industrial facilities, such as large chemical plants, oil refineries, and municipal waste incinerators, to meet toxic air emission standards. Unlike the second milestone which measures success by reductions in emissions of a particular pollutant, this milestone addresses "toxics" in general and does not specify how different toxics will be compared to one another (e.g., by volume or toxicity). In addition, unlike the second milestone, but consistent with the formulation in the Clean Air Act, success is measured in terms of compliance with a technology-based standard rather than on an output basis. Since not all the standards have been promulgated, the amount of toxics reduction has not been specified.

The fifth milestone focuses on the issue of acid rain and uses an emissions approach that includes virtually all source categories. Consistent with the CAA, it calls for a reduction in SO2 by 32 percent from the 1994 level of 22 million tons.

The sixth milestone concerns the clearness of the air. Like milestone one, it is output based, specifying that annual average visibility in the eastern U.S. will

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