Environment: Cleaning the Air

Since it breezed through Congress in 1970, the Clean Air Act has significantly improved the atmosphere Americans must breathe. Sulfur dioxide levels are down by 30% and sooty particles by 33%. Cars, too, are less polluting as Detroit struggles to meet tough emissions standards. Yet for all the progress, air quality in most major U.S. cities and industrial regions is still below the goals set seven years ago. Now a drive to clear the air has set off the fiercest environmental fight in years.

At issue are long-overdue amendments to the 1970 act. As...

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