Environment: Murky Debate on Clear Air

Pollution and politics in a congressional standoff

As the genial host at a White House dinner party, Ronald Reagan could not resist getting off a one-liner. He would have preferred a barbecue in the Rose Garden, he said, but all that smoke from the flaming grills might have violated the Clean Air Act. The gag evoked a chuckle from his guests. But environmentalists around the nation were not amused. They see the wisecrack as just one more sign of the Administration's hostility to maintaining the quality of the nation's air.

Central to the argument is the Clean Air Act, one of the more...

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