Origins of the Clean Air Act: A New Interpretation

Environmental Law Vol. 45:75

53 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2015 Last revised: 23 Apr 2015

Date Written: March 12, 2015


Given the increased national attention to the use of the Clean Air Act to address climate change, an analysis of the origins of the Clean Air Act is instructive for understanding the law in its current form. Contrary to the traditional view, the formation of the Clean Air Act was not the result of the events of the Year of the Environment, but rather, the gradual evolution of a federal regulatory approach to the medium of air between 1955 and 1970. Far from being weak and ineffectual, the federal air pollution laws of 1955, 1963, 1965, and 1967 laid the legal and conceptual framework for the modern Clean Air Act.

Keywords: Earth Day, air, air pollution, pollution, Clean Air Act, origins, climate change, administrative law, environmental law

JEL Classification: K23, K32

Suggested Citation

Ahlers, Christopher, Origins of the Clean Air Act: A New Interpretation (March 12, 2015). Environmental Law Vol. 45:75. Available at SSRN:

Christopher Ahlers (Contact Author)

Vermont Law School ( email )

8163 Oak Leaf Lane
Williamsville, NY 14221
United States
716-636-4830 (Phone)


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