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Pollution has been a national environmental concern for many years, with federal policy gradually evolving and culminating in comprehensive congressional legislation in the 1970's. The strategy to control air, water, and noise pollution has centered on national uniform technology-based standards, a policy which is meeting resistance from industry, the states, and municipalities because it is not cost-effective, efficient, or equitable. Environmentalists argue, however, for sterner enforcement and broader efforts. The most critical challenges foreseen for the 1980's and beyond will involve global environmental protection, with the United States taking a more active leadership role in developing preventive measures to forestall environmental catastrophes. This study addresses 11 major environmental protection issues meriting attention and lists GAO reports bearing on those issues. Six of the issues have been designated for high priority attention, including the effectiveness of regulatory strategies, the efficient use of funds, the social and economic effects of programs, institutional arrangements for the implementation of laws, the harmful effects of exposure to toxic pollutants, and research and development support for environmental protection.

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