A Look at the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Air Act.
Forty years after President Nixon signed the Clean Air Act into law, correspondent Dan Goldsteinlooks back at its legacy and its future as a weapon against greenhouse gas emissions.
As the nation's most comprehensive pollution law to that date, the act has received credit for rolling back pollution, improving the nation's air quality and preventing thousands of illnesses and deaths. It's also credited with spurring major industrial innovations such as the catalytic con verter for automobiles and emissions control equipment in power plants and factories.
But detractors also say it has hurt the U.S. economy and imposed unnecessary burdens on businesses and industries. And while the EPA is planning to use the Clean Air Act as the basis for its efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, opponents say the bill it not suited for such a goal and would be a further drag on the economy.
Dan talks to Leon Billings, who wrote the major provisions of the act as a legislative aide to Sen. Edmund Muskie, D-ME; William Ruckelshaus, who was the first EPA administrator under Nixon and headed the agency again in the 1980s under President Reagan; and Jeff Holmstead, a former EPA official in the George W. Bush Administration. They discuss what it was like to author and implement such groundbreaking legislation, reflect on its accomplishments and discuss whether the Clean Air Act is the right tool to fight greenhouse gas emissions or whether, at 40, the law is showing its age.
(First aired on ABC affiliate WJLA-7, December 2010 and Bloomberg TV)