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Highway Fund Sanctions for Clean Air Act Violations

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Publication Date: October 1997

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: 97-959

Topic: Environment (Pollution and environmental degradation)


Under the Clean Air Act, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency is required to impose highway fund and other sanctions on areas that she determines not to have submitted or not to have implemented adequate plans to attain air quality standards. The threat of sanctions is a powerful tool that Congress gave EPA to encourage state compliance with the Act's objectives. EPA has formally notified the states of its intent to use this tool 855 times since 1990. Actual imposition of sanctions, which cannot occur until 18 months after formal notification, is a relatively rare event, however. The Agency has imposed sanctions 14 times since 1990; they are currently in effect for only one small area in Montana.

This report provides information concerning the authority to impose sanctions, lists the 14 areas that have been subject to sanctions since 1990, describes their status as of October 1997, and discusses the role of sanctions and alternatives under the Act.