The Clean Air Act Handbook (4th)
Edited by Julie R. Domike and Alec C. Zacaroli
Reviewed by Courtney Nguyen, Reference Librarian
The air we breathe may be free, but that doesn’t mean it still isn’t regulated. Nearly five decades old, the Clean Air Act (CAA) remains one of the most significant pieces of environmental legislation in the United States, and it is still the only available tool for regulating greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. To help practitioners and concerned citizens alike understand this complex statute, the Library has The Clean Air Act Handbook (4th), edited by Julie R. Domike and Alec C. Zacaroli. The contributing authors bring their collective years of public and private sector experience and knowledge of the CAA, and many were even involved in the development of the very statutes and regulations discussed in the book. From the beginning of modern air pollution control laws in the postwar era, to the minutiae of current permitting processes, this book covers the entire act in twenty comprehensive chapters. Some of the topics discussed include National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), the Visibility Protection Program designed to protect scenic vistas in our state parks and wilderness areas, State Implementation Programs (SIPs), Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs), and civil and criminal enforcement. Perhaps of particular interest to Californians are the chapters about global climate change/greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the regulation of motor vehicles, including the seminal 2007 Supreme Court case Massachusetts v. EPA. The authors also point you towards related documents, such as the legislative history of the CAA or the EPA’s administrative records, which can be found for free online or maybe even at your local law library.
The authors believe that practitioners who master the basic CAA policies and tools available, as laid out in the book, will find solutions to most CAA problems. Though intended as a reference resource and tool for CAA practitioners and the more general environmental practitioner in need of a quick CAA tutorial, the handbook is clear and straightforward enough to appeal to any interested citizen as well. You will gain a solid foundation for understanding environmental current events (of which there seem to be many), and will learn to tell your HAPs from your SIPs.
The Clean Air Act is the intersection of law, politics, science, technology, economics, and everyday life, and changes can happen very quickly or possibly not at all. The act affects both the regulated/corporate community and the public, and anyone with computer access can participate in rulemakings, monitor workshops, apply for a permit, watch webcasts, and send emails to EPA and state agency staff. The editors stress that this book is merely a snapshot of the act in time since the EPA regularly issues new regulations and guidance, and the courts continue to shape the law in the absence of congressional action. So use this book as a starting point. It could give you something to think about the next time you take a breath.