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Thirty Years of Progress
America’s air is getting cleaner. The quality of the air we breathe has improved dramatically over the last three decades, and the number of localities exceeding federal standards for regulated pollutants has dropped substan- tially since 1970. These trends would have continued even without the enactment of the 1990 Clean Air Act or the imposition of new regulations. The simple fact is that Americans care about the quality of the environ- ment, and should be trusted to do the right thing.
Despite these improvements, in 1997 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attempted to impose tough new standards on the American people. These regulations required limits on tiny traces of material in the air — known as fine particulate matter — and called for reductions in the level of urban ozone. The EPA claimed that these new standards would significantly improve public health, but in reality, all they would have done is cost America billions. Fortunately, the courts refused to support the EPA’s regulations, calling them “arbitrary and capricious,” and in May 1999, they were struck down.
Despite all of this, the EPA is attempting to appeal the court’s decision and reintroduce its regulations through the back door.