11/15/1990, "Statement on Signing the Bill Amending the Clean Air Act, November 15, 1990," UC Santa Barbara, American Presidency Project
"Today I am signing S. 1630, a bill to amend
the Clean Air Act. I take great pleasure in signing S. 1630 as a
demonstration to the American people of my determination that each and
every American shall breathe clean air.
In July of 1989, I sent
to the Congress a proposal to amend the Clean Air Act of 1970. My
proposal was designed to improve our ability to control urban smog and
reduce automobile and air toxic emissions, and to provide the
enforcement authority necessary to make the law work. It also proposed
new initiatives to cut acid rain in half and to promote cleaner
As a result of that proposal, the 13-year
legislative logjam has now been broken. S. 1630 contains all of the
essential features of my original proposal and will lead to the
achievement of the goals I originally set out. The bill I am signing
today will permanently reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 10 million
tons below 1980 levels. It will cut NOx emissions by two million tons
from projected year 2000 levels and reduce air toxic emissions by over
The bill will allow the Nation finally to meet air
quality standards in every city; and, in total, almost 30 million tons
per year of dangerous chemicals and noxious pollutants will be prevented
from fouling the air.
The result of this new Clean Air Act will
be that cancer risk, respiratory disease, heart ailments, and
reproductive disorders will be reduced; damage to lakes, streams, parks,
crops, and forests will greatly be lessened; and visibility will be
notably improved. As an added benefit, energy security will on balance
be enhanced as utilities and automobiles switch to cleaner burning
The innovative use of market incentives in the
bill represents the turning of a new page in our approach to
environmental problems in this country. The acid rain allowance trading
program will be the first large-scale regulatory use of market
incentives and is already being seen as a model for regulatory reform
efforts here and abroad. The acid rain program is based on some simple
concepts -- that we should set tough standards, allow freedom of choice
in how to meet them, and let the power of markets help us allocate the
costs most efficiently.
By employing a system that generates the
most environmental protection for every dollar spent, the trading system
lays the groundwork for a new era of smarter government regulation; one
that is more compatible with economic growth than using only the
command and control approaches of the past.
Other provisions to increase
flexibility include increased opportunities for emissions trading and
performance standards for fuel refiners to encourage alternative fuel
reformulations. In all, these path-breaking features allow us to
implement the legislation in a way that achieves my environmental goals
at an acceptable cost. The result will be the dawning of a new era in
regulatory policy, one that relies on the market to reconcile the
environment and the economy.
To address the serious concerns
raised by the cost of this legislation, I am directing Bill Reilly,
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to implement this
bill in the most cost-effective manner possible. This means ensuring
that plants can continue to use emission trading and netting to the
maximum extent allowed by law; that the Administration's proposed policy
on WEPCO is implemented to the extent allowed by law as quickly as
possible; and that the permit program is phased in over time in an
orderly, nondisruptive manner. This Administration will also pursue the
use of more realistic assumptions when estimating risk. These
implementation strategies will help keep unnecessary costs and job
losses down, while ensuring the achievement of the environmental goals
of this bill in the most efficient manner possible.
I must note several provisions of the bill that raise serious
constitutional concerns. I strongly object to the bill's restrictions on
removal or review of the Chemical Safety Investigation Board. Although
the Board's principal functions are investigatory and advisory, it has
also been given regulatory and enforcement authorities clearly assigned
by the Constitution to the executive branch.
As such, the provisions
purporting to limit my authority to remove Board members and provide
them with policy guidance raise serious constitutional questions.
Accordingly, although I believe that these provisions are severable, I
am directing the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to
submit curative legislation in the next session of Congress insuring
that the Board's activities are consistent with the Constitution. This
legislation will also address the serious constitutional concerns
created by those provisions relating to the Board that invade the
deliberative processes of the executive branch. Similarly, because the
Urban Air Toxics Research Center created by the bill exercises executive
grant-making authorities, the provision of the bill vesting appointment
of part of its Board in Members of Congress violates this principle.
This defect must also be rectified by curative legislation.
addition, there are certain aspects of the bill's enforcement provisions
that raise constitutional questions. I note that in providing for
citizen suits for civil penalties, the Congress has codified the Supreme
Court's interpretation of such provisions in the Gwaltney case. As the
Constitution requires, litigants must show, at a minimum, intermittent,
rather than purely past, violations of the statute in order to bring
suit. This requirement respects the constitutional limitations on the
judicial power and avoids an intrusion into the law-enforcement
responsibilities of the executive branch. I should also note my
interpretation of the provision permitting courts to order that civil
penalties be used in beneficial mitigation projects consistent with the
Act and enhancing public health or the environment.
Because the Congress
may not impose on courts responsibilities inconsistent with their
judicial function, I do not interpret this provision as imposing
administrative responsibilities on the courts.
Even before the
signing of this bill, the American public has begun to respond to the
environmental leadership it embodies. In response to the direction we
have signalled in this legislation:
-- Cleaner reformulated gasolines are being produced by our leading refiners and are eagerly being sought out by consumers.
Cleaner natural-gas-fueled trucks, electric vehicles, and
flexible-fueled vehicles are or will soon be manufactured by domestic
-- Commitments have been made by the chief
executives of leading chemical industries to reduce voluntarily their
air toxic emissions by as much as 90 percent.
The speed with
which companies and the public are voluntarily getting a head start is
testimony to the need and timeliness of the measures I proposed and the
Congress has now passed.
Passage of this bill is an indication
that the Congress shares my commitment to a strong Clean Air Act, to a
clean environment, and to the achievement of the goals I originally set
The White House,
November 15, 1990."
George Bush #1 signs Clean Air Act amendments in 1990, making rules stricter than 1970 and 1977 versions. Top left, clapping, Bush EPA chief William Reilly, plucked from his job as WWF president by Bush. In particular the 1990 law reduced sulfur dioxide emissions which Bush said caused acid rain.
Unfortunately this exacerbated global warming in Northern latitudes: :
Post 1970 global warming "is driven by efforts to reduce
in general and acid deposition in
particular."...2011 PNAS study
2009 NASA graph shows warming of Arctic latitudes resulting from US Clean Air Acts of 1970, 1977 and 1990:
Image from Nasa.gov.
4/8/2009, "Half of recent Arctic warming may not be due to greenhouse gases," Houston Chronicle, Eric Berger
News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.
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