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The Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act, 1970 to 1990

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Final report to Congress prepared in response to Section 812 of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments addressing the question of how the overall health, welfare, ecological, and economic benefits of Clean Air Act Programs compare to the costs of these programs in the period 1970-90. This final report has been approved by an advisory committee formed to review it, and has been transmitted to Congress.
This retrospective analysis focuses on the National Ambient Air Quality criteria pollutants sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, ozone, and lead. The report compares and contrasts two regulatory scenarios. The "control scenario" reflects the actual conditions resulting from the historical implementation of the 1970 and 1977 Clean Air Acts. In contrast, the "no-control" scenario reflects expected conditions under the assumption that, absent the passage of the 1970 Clean Air Act, the scope, form, and stringency of air pollution control programs would have remained as they were in 1970. The "no-control" scenario represents a hypothesized "baseline" against which to measure the effects of the Clean Air Act. The differences between the public health, air quality, and economic and environmental conditions resulting from these two scenarios represent the benefits and costs of the Act's implementation from 1970 to 1990.
The retrospective study was designed and developed over a six year period, and received extensive outside peer review. This outside peer review, conducted on an ongoing basis throughout the full six-year period of study design and implementation, was provided by the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) Council on Clean Air Act Compliance Analysis (Council), an independent panel of distinguished economists, scientists and public health experts chaired by Dr. Richard Schmalensee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In a July 8, 1997 letter to EPA concluding its review of the retrospective study, the SAB Council summarized its findings as follows: "The Council finds that the Retrospective Study Report to Congress by the Agency is a serious, careful study and employs sound methods along with the best data available. While we do not necessarily endorse all details of this study's findings, we believe that as a general matter that they are consistent with the weight of available evidence."
The report is broken down into the following major sections:

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Date Linked: 05/28/2009

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