Preserve the Clean Air Act​

Burning fossil fuels to generate electricity causes significant health risks. Power plants pump out pollution linked to heart attacks, neurological and developmental birth defects, and leukemia. Their smokestacks also contribute to smog that hangs over cities and can damage lungs. Coal-fired power plants, meanwhile, are the single-largest source of carbon pollution—the primary cause of climate change.

As a leading authority on the Clean Air Act for more than four decades, NRDC uses this law to limit dangerous air pollution. We have sued large utilities for violations, urged Congress to expand the Clean Air Act to include acid rain, and brought the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to court when it fails to enforce the law.

Nick Roush/Cavan Images/Offset


Our experts are now pushing for stronger limits on smog pollution. The EPA estimates that tightening the current smog standard of 75 parts per billion to 65 parts per billion would prevent nearly a million asthma attacks among children and up to 4,300 premature deaths every year. We and our allies in the medical and scientific communities believe the standard should be set even lower: 60 parts per billion. We have provided technical analysis and public comments to support the strongest standard possible.

We are also working to use the Clean Air Act to fight climate change. Our litigators helped win the Supreme Court cases confirming that the Clean Air Act gives the EPA the authority to regulate carbon pollution. Since then, our policy experts have championed strong carbon pollution limits on power plants, and we are helping states prepare to meet these new limits.

Fossil-fuel companies and their allies in Congress are trying to overturn the carbon limits and gut key provisions of the Clean Air Act. NRDC is fighting back in Congress and in the courts to ensure this bedrock environmental law stays strong to protect Americans from pollution.

Resource Center