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Clean Air for All: 50 Years of the Clean Air Act


September 29, 2020


Virtual Only

To mark the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Clean Air Act and the 30th Anniversary of the Clean Air Act Amendments, American University’s Center for Environmental Policy, Center for Environmental Filmmaking and the American Lung Association are hosting a half day virtual symposium.

Cosponsored by the Environmental Law Institute

The goals of the symposium are to recognize the accomplishments of the Clean Air Act, document its benefits and to reaffirm its role as an essential element in protecting the health of Americans. The nation has enjoyed major gains in air quality as a result of the Act, but a great deal of work remains to be done to protect more than 141 million Americans who still live in areas where the air quality puts their health at risk, and to address the new air quality challenges posed by climate change.

Watch the short film “Unbreathable: The Fight for Healthy Air" created to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Clean Air Act.


AGENDA (There will be short breaks between each session)
12:00 noon


12:15 PM

The Promise of the Clean Air Act

Learn from leaders in the fields of law, public health and environmental justice about the connections between one’s zip code and the likelihood of suffering disproportionate health and economic impacts from air pollution. The legal underpinnings of the law along with legal approaches for addressing disparities will be discussed.

  • Paul Billings, National Senior Vice President of Public Policy, American Lung Association (Moderator)
  • Wayne Nastri, Executive Officer, South Coast Air Quality Management District
  • Vickie Patton, General Counsel, Environmental Defense Fund
  • Dr. Mary Rice, Physician, Beth Israel Deconess Medical Center; Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Vice-Chair, American Thoracic Society
  • Peggy Shepard, Co-Founder and Executive Director, WE ACT for Environmental Justice
1:30 PM

Innovation for Cleaner Air

While clean air is protected by the Clean Air Act, improvements cannot be achieved through regulations alone. In this discussion, learn from practitioners who are advancing clean air through both policy and technology innovations, from both the public and the private sectors.

  • Sarah Vogel, Vice President, Health, EDF (Moderator)
  • Tim Johnson, Director, Emerging Regulations and Technologies, Corning Environmental Technologies
  • David Hawkins, Former Assistant Administrator, Air, Noise and Radiation, EPA
  • Margo Oge, Former Director, Office of Transportation and Air Quality, EPA
  • Tommy Wells, Director, Department of Energy & Environment, Distict of Columbia
2:45 PM

Clean Air and Cliumate Change in the 21st Century

  • Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, Executive Director, American Public Health Association (Moderator)
  • Dr. Susan Anenberg, Associate Professor, Environmental and Occupational Health and Global Health, George Washington University School of Public Health
  • Deborah P. Brown, Chief Mission Officer, American Lung Association
  • John Haynes, Program Manager, Health and Air Quality Applications, Applied Sciences Program, NASA Earth Science Division
4:00 PM

Lessons from the Past 50 Years

In this interactive dialogue, learn from and engage with those who were responsible for the original 1970 Clean Air Act and the 1990 Amendments at the helm of the Environmental Protection Agency and in Congress.

  • Dan Fiorino, Director, Center for Environmental Policy, American University School of Public Affairs (Moderator)
  • Carol Browner, Former Administrator, EPA
  • Tom Jorling, Former Congressional Aide; Former Assistant Administrator, Office of Water and Hazardous Materials, EPA
  • Gina McCarthy, President and CEO, Natural Resources Defense Council; Former Administrator, EPA
  • Bill Reilly, Former Administrator, EPA
5:00 PM

Conclusions and Next Steps

5:05 PM