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WRI to Host Discussion on State of the Clean Air Act

On January 23, WRI will host a high-profile roundtable discussion on “The State of the Clean Air Act: Past, Present and Future.” The event will be moderated by Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), and will feature former EPA Administrators William Ruckelshaus and William Reilly, and other speakers. As 2012 begins, we expect the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Clean Air Act will continue to be at the center of the political discussion in the United States. This year, the EPA is considering measures to protect the air from pollutants, including air toxics and greenhouse gases, under its existing authority under the Clean Air Act. WRI will be tracking EPA’s progress on these actions to protect people’s health and the environment.

Historically, our country’s most important environmental regulations have taken place through broad, bipartisan support. This includes the passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970, when Mr. Ruckelshaus served as the country’s first EPA administrator under President Nixon, and later amendments, in 1990, when Mr. Reilly served as EPA administrator under President George H.W. Bush. We are looking forward to hearing the reflections of Ruckelshaus and Reilly, as well as the other panelists.

They will be joined by Ralph Izzo, the CEO of PSEG, one of the ten largest electric companies in the United States, and by two health experts: Dan Greenbaum of the Health Effects Institute and Dr. Sumita Khatri, Co-Director of the Asthma Center for the Cleveland Clinic. Greenbaum and Khatri will provide a public health perspective and Izzo will provide a business perspective on the Clean Air Act’s achievements over the last 40 years and important challenges that lie ahead.

At its core, the Clean Air Act is designed to protect public health and the environment from all forms of air pollution. While the air today in most parts of the country is significantly cleaner than when the Act was first adopted, many regions continue to have pollution levels that exceed the air quality standards that are necessary to protect public health. Meanwhile, standards authorized under the Act continue to be updated to reflect current science, including the threats from climate change and toxic air pollutants.

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