The Clean Air Act (CAA) is the primary federal statute regulating the emission of air pollutants. First enacted in 1970, the CAA requires, inter alia, the federal government to establish air quality goals and states to develop implementation plans to achieve those goals. The most stringent requirements of the CAA are imposed on “new” or “modified” sources of pollution, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, and particulate matter. Sources that were operating when the CAA was enacted are mostly exempt from regulation under the Act. Because of the substantial costs associated with the CAA standards, there is an incentive for existing sources to stay in operation instead of modifying existing or opening new facilities. This subverts the goals of the CAA because the most inefficient and polluting sources stay in operation rather than being replaced with newer, cleaner plants and new pollution control technologies. This Comment argues for federal regulation of existing sources of pollution under the CAA and suggests ways by which the federal government could encourage investment in newer and cleaner industrial sources.

Citation Note

This Comment was originally cited as Volume 2 of the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform Online. Volumes 1, 2, and 3 of MJLR Online have been renumbered 45, 46, and 47 respectively. These updated Volume numbers correspond to their companion print Volumes. Additionally, the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform Online was renamed Caveat in 2015.