Air Quality

Contact: Michael Mittelholzer
AVP, Environmental Policy
(202) 266-8660

Since Congress passed the Clean Air Act in 1970, the amount of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, lead and nitrogen in the air has decreased nationally by about 30%. We drive much cleaner cars, pollution control devices on power plants and industry smokestacks are more effective and we know much more about keeping our air purer.

Policy Statement

NAHB wants the federal government to withdraw its policy allowing state and local governments to adopt land use controls, including regulating indirect sources of emissions (like large buildings), in exchange for air quality credits unless there are verifiable emissions reductions. We want continued emphasis placed on offering incentives for retrofitting older, more polluting diesel engines. NAHB hopes that EPA will rethink its new emphasis on “demand-side management – or forcing states and localities to adopt stricter energy codes to reduce emissions – and instead concentrate on consumer education and again, emphasize retrofitting existing homes, which should result in better air quality.

Why It Matters

Under the act, EPA establishes national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for specific pollutants that all states must achieve. Areas of the country that fail to achieve a specific NAAQS standard are deemed “non-attainment areas” and must reduce air pollution levels within a specific period of time or risk sanctions like the loss of federal highway funds. They must develop a “state implementation plan” (SIP) that details the regulations and other measures the state will take. Builders and developers are affected by NAAQS when states include regulations in their SIPs that restrict building or road construction, or otherwise place limitations or restrictions on development.