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Clean Air Act Overview

40th Anniversary of the Clean Air Act

40th Anniversary of the Clean Air Act Banner

Note: This material is for historical reference.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency celebrated the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Clean Air Act Amendments, a landmark piece of legislation that has led to significant environmental and public health benefits across the United States. The Clean Air Act was signed by President Richard Nixon on December 31, 1970 to foster the growth of a strong American economy and industry while improving human health and the environment. President Richard Nixon recognized the Clean Air Act as a beginning, stating, "I think that 1970 will be known as the year of the beginning, in which we really began to move on the problems of clean air and clean water and open spaces for the future generations of America".

Although significant progress has been made in improving the quality of the air in most U.S. cities and communities, there is more to be done over the next 40 years. After the Clean Air Act's first 20 years, in 1990, it prevented more than 200,000 premature deaths, and almost 700,000 cases of chronic bronchitis were avoided. From 1990 to 2010, total emissions of the six principal air pollutants decreased by more than 41 percent, while the Gross Domestic Product increased by more than 64 percent. Through continued innovation and successful implementation, the Clean Air Act will deliver even more benefits over the next 40 years.

The EPA and the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) Exit co-sponsored a conference to mark the 40th anniversary of the Clean Air Act (and the 20th anniversary of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments) on September 14th, 2010. The event brought together leaders, past and present, in clean air and climate from across the country, including Members of Congress, corporate CEOs, State and Local government officials, and leaders in public health, business and technology, environmental justice, and advocacy.  They examined the successes and challenges of the Clean Air Act over the past four decades and explored the future of air quality, energy, and climate change.

Highlights from the Clean Air Act 40th Anniversary Celebration

Highlights of the 1990 Amendments

Former Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks on the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Air Act