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Pollution Control Policy - Essay Example

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Public opinion polls in the United States over the years consistently have noted a high level of concern over implementing air pollution controls to guarantee healthy air. The Clean Air Act of 1963 was an early Congressional response to the public demand for a federal assistance to solve a policy issue that originally was considered to be a state and local problem…
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Pollution Control Policy
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Download file to see previous pages Proponents and opponents of air pollution control policy now accept the protection of the public health as a political reality. The need for clean air is considered to be "a uniformly agreed-upon problem" or a "valence issue" (Baumgartner and Jones, 150). Nobody can be against the public good of clean air.
Despite general agreement of the public, legislators, regulators and the regulated that clean air is important, many urban areas in the United States struggle to meet national air quality standards as the EPA continues to set stricter emission thresholds. The EPA has tracked emission levels of six criteria pollutants deemed harmful to human health - nitrogen dioxide, ground level ozone, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and lead - since 1970. However, the persistence of the ground level ozone pollutant (commonly called either smog or ozone) troubles those who wish to protect the public health. The adverse health effects of acute and chronic exposure to ozone are more fully documented each year. While levels of some criteria pollutants (i.e. lead and carbon monoxide) have declined significantly, levels of ozone and particulate matter have not (Smith, 29). The EPA determined in 1997 that 122 million Americans, or 46% of the population, lived in smog-plagued areas (Doyle, 348). The EPA reported in 2004 that 112 million people across the nation still lived in 68 metropolitan areas classified in nonattainment of the national air quality standard for ozone. Regulators describe long-term exposure to ozone levels above the threshold set by law as extremely hazardous to human health (Smith, 34).
From the critical perspective, there is a pressing need to establish radically new air pollution control policy. Contemporary business practice provides some important patterns in understanding policy new direction. It is evident that due to growing compliance costs, environmental expenditures have begun to play a major role in the policymaking decisions of companies. As a result, the environment is increasingly being used as a strategic tool to reduce cost and increase competitive advantage. Adequate and effective air pollution public policy should be largely based on firms' strategic needs to economize and being competitive.
The continuing political controversy surrounding compliance with the provisions of the Clean Air Act suggests that the problem of national air pollution control is not going away either quickly or easily. Solutions to this challenging policy problem often appear partial and ineffectual. Four reasons for impaired policy effectiveness are suggested. First, the way in which federal regulators define and measure compliance with the law may not achieve consensus among the disparate participants in the implementation process. Even when participants do work together, gamesmanship among players who do not see themselves as equals on a level playing field may interfere with moving toward the same goal. The lack of consensus may continue until all the key players hold to some expectation of a common outcome (Bardach, 85). A second reason policy effectiveness may be impaired is due to the many participants in the fragmented federal hierarchy who represent multiple decision or veto points in the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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