Air Pollution

States Assigned a Major Role in EPA's Air Toxics Strategy Gao ID: RCED-87-76 March 31, 1987

In response to a congressional request, GAO examined the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) strategy to rely more on states to regulate toxic air pollutants, specifically: (1) the status of the strategy; (2) certain legal issues related to state regulation of pollutants; and (3) variances among state air toxics programs.

GAO noted that the EPA strategy of delegating its authority to set standards and regulations for toxic air pollutants and pollution sources raised concerns about legal issues, public health, and industry location implications. GAO found that: (1) the question of whether EPA has the discretion to delegate regulatory responsibility to states instead of issuing national standards is under litigation; (2) although EPA discontinued referring the regulation of toxic air pollutants to states, it continued to identify potential pollution sources in states and furnish them with studies for use in evaluation and regulation; (3) as of May 1968, 17 states had pollution control programs in place and 29 were developing programs; (4) since the state programs vary in terms of the pollutants and sources they regulate, their regulation strategies, and the methods they use to establish acceptable emission levels, then the levels of public exposure to toxic pollutants also vary; and (5) environmental regulation is generally not a significant factor in industry location decisions.


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