Hazy Outlook for the Clean Air Act

The first big legislative test of Ronald Reagan's pledge to ease the regulatory burden on private industry involves a law that was a hallmark of the era of environmental activism: the Clean Air Act of 1970.

Proposals to change the law, which will expire at the end of September unless it is renewed, have inspired unprecedented lobbying by a broad coalition of industries that include steel, auto and chemical manufacturers. They claim that it now costs about $25 billion a year to comply with the law and that many of the most expensive requirements result in only marginal air-quality improvements. Said a...

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