New clean air efforts face tough challenges, say senators and former EPA administrators



With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) coming under repeated attack from some members of Congress and others for perceived heavy-handed regulatory actions, two moderate U.S. senators and two former EPA administrators recently noted the need for continued measures to improve air quality. However, they also acknowledged the difficulty in moving forward with new legislative efforts to revise the federal Clean Air Act to further reduce air pollution in the current polarized political climate. “Nobody who wants to see constructive changes [to the act] would dare touch it or propose it in the current climate,” said former EPA administrator William Reilly at a 23 January forum sponsored by the World Resources Institute. Reilly, who served as EPA administrator from 1989 to 1992, noted that bipartisan congressional support had been key to addressing many environmental problems up until the mid-1990s.