The Clean Air Act, arguably the nation's most important environmental statute, is sure to be amended by the 101st Congress. In neither its current nor its likely new form does the Act feature much of a role for economic considerations. In fact, one approach that many economists would presumably favor̬the balancing of benefits and costs in setting air quality or source discharge standards—has been found by courts to be inconsistent with the law (Lead Industries Association v. EPA, 1980). Here I describe the likely changes in the Clean Air Act and what is known (and, more often, not known) about their associated costs and benefits, and identify respects in which air quality regulation could be improved from an economic perspective.
"Policy Watch: Economics and the Clean Air Act." Journal of Economic Perspectives,