WILMINGTON, Del. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, released the following statement to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Clean Air Act on December 31, 2020.
“Signed into law in 1970, the Clean Air Act created a national framework to reduce pollution and improve air quality, entrusting the Environmental Protection Agency with leading efforts to ensure everyone in this country has clean air to breathe.
“For fifty years, this landmark law has ushered in dramatic improvements in air quality. It has saved hundreds of thousands of lives from deadly air pollution while improving the health of millions more. During that same time, our economy has expanded and more than tripled its gross domestic product while EPA has worked with states and businesses alike to dramatically reduce harmful emissions. The progress made under the Clean Air Act is proof that improvements in public health and environmental quality go hand in hand with economic growth and job creation. In fact, the benefits of the Clean Air Act outweigh its costs by a margin of 30 to one.
“This sweeping law will continue to endure because its regulations can adapt and evolve with the latest science to help us meet the most pressing air quality challenges of our day. For example, advances in science continue to elucidate the link between air pollution and human health. As our country continues to suffer from the scourge of the coronavirus pandemic, research shows that stronger safeguards for clean air can protect people from pollution that is causing more severe and even deadlier cases of COVID-19. Stronger Clean Air Act regulations can help us better protect public health.
“As our nation reckons with decades of systemic racism, stronger air protections can also help us address the air pollution that is disproportionately harming communities of color and reinforcing unjust disparities in health and environmental quality. Stronger Clean Air Act regulations can help us further the cause of environmental justice and, finally, fifty years later, make good on the promise of ensuring clean air for everyone in this country.
“Over the last fifty years, the Clean Air Act has helped our nation confront some of the toughest problems impeding our efforts to protect clean air – issues like interstate pollution, which was once considered too complex and complicated to address. Fortunately, the flexible framework provided by the Clean Air Act gives EPA the tools and authorities it needs to address complicated problems, which is why the law will be critical in the fight against the climate crisis. Through the clear authorities of the Clean Air Act, EPA will be able to lead the nation in our nationwide transition to a clean economy.
“On this special anniversary, we are reminded that our work to ensure clean air for everyone is far from over, but we are also reminded to be hopeful. In 1970, the gigantic strides in air quality we have made over the last fifty years would have seemed daunting, perhaps even unfeasible. But by working together – Democrats and Republicans, the environmental community and industry, the federal government and states – we achieved monumental progress that once seemed impossible. With the Clean Air Act as our guide, we can continue that progress.”