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SPOTLIGHT

1. AIR POLLUTION

How EPA's regulatory surge missed a primary target

It was 20 years ago, just days before the election of 1990, when Democrats and Republicans banded together in an effort to solve a problem that people on both sides of the aisle saw as a stark failure of the Clean Air Act. In the first few years after the law hit the books in 1970, U.S. EPA cracked down on airborne lead, soot and smog. Congress had also ordered EPA to figure out the risks posed by toxic contaminants, but the agency did little to stop mercury and other rare but dangerous chemicals from being released into the air. In two decades, the agency had applied that section of the Clean Air Act to just eight substances.

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