Center for Biological Diversity

Save the Clean Air Act to Fight Global Warming

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Scientific consensus is clear: We must reduce the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide to 350 parts per million (ppm) or below to avoid global catastrophe. Unfortunately, pending climate legislation isn't going to get us to 350 ppm -- but the Clean Air Act could.

To reach 350 ppm, carbon pollution from the United States and other developed countries must be reduced by 45 percent or more below 1990 levels by 2020. But the Senate climate bill would reduce emissions by just 4 percent below those levels. (The House bill sets even weaker targets.) Clearly, the road map to 350 ppm won't be found in pending legislation.

Rather, the path to achieving 350 ppm must utilize the Clean Air Act, which provides indispensable tools for reducing pollution from smokestacks and other big polluters, and also requires the Environmental Protection Agency to set a science-based national pollution limit for greenhouse gases.

- Under the Act, the EPA is required to set a limit on the amount of carbon pollution that different sources, such as coal-fired power plants, oil refineries, and cement factories, may emit. 

- The Act requires each new or modified source of carbon pollution to show that the proposed facility will use the best available carbon control technology before it can be built.

- Finally, the Act requires the EPA to use the best available science and set a national limit -- such as 350 ppm -- on the total amount of carbon pollution that may exist in the ambient air. EPA has not yet set that limit, and will be prevented from ever doing so if the current climate bill becomes law.

The Clean Air Act is a comprehensive system of pollution control with a proven track record of saving the public money and protecting our planet's health. It can work immediately to curb carbon pollution, either by itself or in conjunction with new climate legislation. Now, more than ever, is the time to enforce the Clean Air Act -- not to gut it. We need you to stand with us to save the Clean Air Act today.

- If you haven't yet written to your senators urging them to save the Clean Air Act, click here to send them a message now.

- Please call your senators and urge them to save the Clean Air Act -- the entire Clean Air Act. Personal calls from constituents make a big difference. Call (202) 224-3121 and ask for your senators' office, or visit to look up your senators' contact information.

- Visit your senators' district office. If you live in California, Oregon, Vermont, Nevada, or New Mexico, please join Center for Biological Diversity staff in meeting with your senators’ district office staff to save the Clean Air Act. Space is limited; to reserve a spot or get more information, contact Climate Campaign Coordinator Rose Braz at or (415) 436-9682 x 319.
And if you don't live in these areas, contact us for talking points to set up and conduct a meeting yourself.

Coal plant photo by J.C. Willett, USGS.