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Thank you 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, you have enhanced my autumn experiences on the back of an Appaloosa

2010 November 1

By Cindy Walke

This fall marks the 20th anniversary of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments and as an avid horsewoman, the anniversary highlights why autumn is still my favorite time of year.  I’m able to get out on the trails with my horse and enjoy all of the sights and smells that the fall season brings.  It’s not uncommon for us to encounter wild turkey, quail, deer, and various little critters scampering in the woods as my horse and I make our way through the wooded trails of the Liberty Watershed in Sykesville, Maryland.  It is truly an amazing sight to see!

When I’m out on the trails, I realize how fragile our ecosystems are.  The freshwater streams and trees provide the habitat that wildlife need in order to thrive.  My life has truly been enriched by these outdoor experiences and I cannot imagine how different they would be without the actions taken under the Clean Air Act.

Title IV of the Clean Air Act, also known as the Acid Rain Program, regulates SO2 and NOx emissions from power plants.  It’s these emissions that cause acid rain, which affects our ecosystems by making our lakes and streams acidic, harming fish populations, and slowing forest growth.  These emissions also contribute to health problems like premature mortality, cardiovascular issues and respiratory diseases like asthma and bronchitis.  The Acid Rain Program has reduced SO2 and NOx emissions and as a result, we can see improvements in our environment.

The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments also addressed toxic air pollutants and urban pollution, established tighter pollution standards for cars and trucks, helped eliminate ozone depleting substances and much more.

In the coming weeks, my colleagues and I will be sharing our personal stories about the outdoor activities we enjoy and how the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments have helped improve our environment, making our favorite activities possible.  Please follow our discussion series on Greenversations, and contribute your own stories about how the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments have improved your enjoyment of your favorite outdoor activities.

About the author: Cindy Walke is the website manager for the Clean Air Markets Division.  One of her favorite fall activities is horseback riding along the beautiful trails of Central Maryland.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

11 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    November 1, 2010

    Hopes and Reality.
    If Cindy in the Equator, maybe her favorite activities doesn’t do however in the same time I haven’t seen the fall season. I ask myself, is The Act Amandment 1990 that universal conducting the earth with different seasons? In fact, my mind’s opened, to be difficulty to implement environmental policy and need long the times to do that. Here, I just hear “Autumn Leaves” by Nat King Cole….. Thank you Ms. Walke!

  2. dave gould permalink
    November 2, 2010

    The problem I see is one of opinion vs. Fact. In your opinion, the air and the vistas you & your horse enjoy seem better to you. In my opinion the vistas of the kangamanga hwy of nh have remained essentially unchanged in the 40 years I have driven through. In all that time the volume of cars has increased drastically but the views have remained. Even though pollution technology has seemingly made cars cleaner and more efficient, has it really. My 62 Ford Falcon has 0 emissions equipment, still runs and get about 34 mpg on the hwy. The same as the 1983 Toyota Celica I used to drive and 14 mpg better than the now dead Volvo Cross Country in my drive way. So based on my opinion, emissions and mileage seems to be one of the biggest scams perpetrated on human kind. That said, what a sweet fairy tale you have spun. I’m sure you beleive it is real.

  3. Barbara Gottlieb permalink
    November 3, 2010

    I agree that we should deal in fact and not opinion. Unfortunately, Mr. Gould then goes on to give us nothing more than his opinion, based on his observations of two cars. Not a very robust or persuasive database, and not what I would call facts.

    Statistical analyses (based on a rather larger database) indicate that the Clean Air Act has in fact dramatically reduced the incidence of adverse health effects associated with criteria pollutants. It has avoided, this year alone, approximately 23,000 cases of premature mortality, 42,000 cardiovascular hospital admissions, 330,000 respiratory illnesses, and 1,700,000 asthma attacks. I call that a meaningful, measurable achievement.

    If all the people who didn’t get sick or die this year thanks to the Clean Air Act were then able to go outside and enjoy the beautiful autumn, well, that’s a fine side benefit.

  4. November 3, 2010

    The issue is more about how pollution contaminates our drinking and ground water. The food chain starts there with microbes and ends with supposedly the most intelligent creature on the planet. To find out more about how I deal with this issue please consider other options

  5. Anonymous permalink
    November 5, 2010

    BECAUSE CO2 EMISSIONS TAKE A PART IN PUTTING A BIGGER HOLE IN THE OZONE LAYER, PLUS POLLUTION WILL AFFECT OUR AIR QUALITY AN CLIMATE CONTROL

  6. Anonymous permalink
    November 6, 2010

    The Clean Air Act has improved my enjoyment of outdoor activities by making it easier for me, as an asthmatic, to breath! It improved my late mother’s quality of life, because she had COPD, and we have had fewer “Bad Air Quality” days since enforcement of the CAA. I am old enough to remember when homes in my region (St. Louis metro area) were heated predominantly by COAL– when I could wash my hair in the morning, go out walking in the afternoon, and later comb my hair and find soot on the comb! Imagine what was going into our lungs in that era! A pathologist has told me that, at autopsy, the average St. Louis area lung of a non-smoker used to look the same as the lung of a smoker or a coal miner from elsewhere! I have seen autopsy slides that prove this. The Clean Air Act saves lives as well as improving quality of health and outdoor vistas!

  7. Mary K. permalink
    November 6, 2010

    The Clean Air Act has improved my enjoyment of outdoor activities by making it easier for me, as an asthmatic, to breath! It improved my late mother’s quality of life, because she had COPD, and we have had fewer “Bad Air Quality” days since enforcement of the CAA. I am old enough to remember when homes in my region (St. Louis metro area) were heated predominantly by COAL– when I could wash my hair in the morning, go out walking in the afternoon, and later comb my hair and find soot on the comb! Imagine what was going into our lungs in that era! A pathologist has told me that, at autopsy, the average St. Louis area lung of a non-smoker used to look the same as the lung of a smoker or a coal miner from elsewhere! I have seen autopsy slides that prove this. The Clean Air Act saves lives as well as improving quality of health and outdoor vistas!

  8. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    November 7, 2010

    I do think the U.S. Clean Air Act has had an important impact for good public health. When compared to the situation 30 years ago or even 10 years ago, the air is clearer outside, schools have not had to restrict students to inside activities onlhy because of smog alerts, it is extremely rare now to see black streams of emissions coming out of car tailpipes or truck stacks. So from where I live, I would say the Clean Air Act has been effective and it also has a provision in it that allows each state to do more than what the Federal Clean Air Act requires and so that provision too has helped. California passed AB32 which the voters of the state strongly upheld on Tuesday. AB32 is the state’s Clean Air and Climate Change Act. It will include carbon cap and trade banking, carbon storage processes, tight greenhouse gas and air pollution controls on engines and fuels, controls on commercial size refregeration systems emissions and recycling among other things. And the California Energy Commission is moving to establish alternative sources of electric power with commercial size solar power and wind power facilities; while the California Public Utilities Commission works to develop a clean fuels infrastructure across the state for hydogen and electric powered vehicles. A new green 21st Century economy is being created to replace the dirty 19th and 20th century economies. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  9. ChrisK permalink
    November 8, 2010

    The White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire and Green Mountain National Forest of Vermont are near and dear to my heart. Unfortunately, the Clean Air Act just isn’t strong enough to make sure that these, and other northeastern forests are protected from the terrible continuing damage from acid rain from coal-burning in the Midwest. Our rivers and streams are polluted by mercury that contaminates our fish and takes away the basic right of all of us to catch a fish with our kids and eat it together as a family. The Clean Air Act and other national environmental laws are critical to protecting our environment for now and the future. But, they desperately need to be strengthened to address acid rain, mercury pollution, and yes, climate change. Thank you Clean Air Act for being there at all, and here’s to a future that actually protects our environment and public health.

  10. William permalink
    November 10, 2010

    Each year, a sleepy town south of Syracuse, NY gets together to celebrate the arts, culture and changing of the seasons at the Annual Tully Fall Festival. Scheduled for Halloween weekend, the festival brings together people from all walks of life. Artists, dancers, story tellers, pastry chefs and trick-or-treaters all participate in the multitude of activities designed and run by Tully Council for the Arts.

    Held at and around the local Elementary school, craft vendors and face painters call out to children and parents to sell decorations, food or a fresh coat of face paint. Hay-rides, pumpkin carving contests, art walks, bake-offs and musical performances fill the day’s itinerary as kids and adults partake in the many free and low cost activities. As a grand finale, dozens of dancers dressed as zombies (and one Michael Jackson) take to the Elementary school yard to perform an authentic rendition of ‘Thriller’ under the lights….

    To read more, visit http://blog.epa.gov/acidrain/

  11. Erika permalink
    November 16, 2010

    My husband and I are avid outdoor adventurers and our love of backpacking, hiking, biking and rock climbing has taken us to some extraordinary places. As new parents, we’ve remained determined to get our fresh air fix, with the additional goal of exposing our son, Isaac, to the joy of the great outdoors. By the end of his second month, we had managed to take him camping and hiking and were ready to up the ante…to backpacking!

    To read more about our first family backpacking trip with our 3-month old son and how the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments enhanced our experience, visit http://blog.epa.gov/acidrain/

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