Relaxation of Implementation Plans Under the 1977 Clean Air Act Amendments

This Article probes the convoluted ameliorative provisions of the 1977 Amendments in three parts. Section I deals with delayed compliance orders – orders granted to stationary sources unable to meet the statutory deadlines for compliance. Section 113( d) is the fountainhead provision, and besides a general provision for delayed compliance, it also contains specific provisions for sources unable to comply due to retirement of present facilities, due to investment in innovative facilities with the promise of greater pollution reduction in the future or due to government orders to convert from cleaner fuels to coal.

Section II analyzes two specific relief provisions intended to go beyond section 113(d). It first examines section 119, essentially a special delayed compliance order applicable only to nonferrous smelters. It then reviews the provisions in section 110 that grant temporary relief for energy and economic emergencies.

Section III examines the nonattainment provisions, which tackle the problem most graphically posed by Los Angeles: how to achieve and maintain ambient standards in areas suffering from excessive pollution, without bringing both new development and the economy to a standstill.