California Clean Air Luminaries Gather to Celebrate Architect of Clean Air Act
RIVERSIDE - The University of California Riverside, and the Center for Environmental Research and Technology will host a public forum on Friday, May 12th from 11 am – 2pm to honor the late Leon Billings, visionary architect of the Clean Air Act.
- Mary Nichols, California Air Resources Board, Chair
- Tom Jorling, Former Minority Counsel, U.S. Senate Committee on Public Works
- Paul Billings, National Senior Vice President, American Lung Association
- Jerry Lewis, Former Congressman, California’s 41st district (invited)
- Ron Loveridge, UCR Center for Sustainable Suburban Development Director, Former CARB Board Member, Former Mayor of Riverside
- John V. White, Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies Director
- Alan Lloyd, Former Secretary, California Environmental Protection Agency, Former Chairman, California Air Resources Board
- James Lents, President, International Sustainable Systems Research Center, former South Coast Air Quality Management District Executive Officer
- Mike Walsh, President, WalshCarLines, Former Director US EPA Office of Mobile Source Air Pollution Control
- Barry Wallerstein, UCR Senior Policy Fellow, Former South Coast Air Quality Management District Executive Director
WHEN: Friday, May 12th, 11 am – 2 pm
Bourns Technology Center
1190 Columbia Ave, Riverside, CA 92507
Parking for the event is free.
With a new administration in Washington DC, and the future of California’s authority under the Clean Air Act at risk, this forum takes on an added and timely significance.
ABOUT THE EVENT:
The program will highlight stories from close colleagues of Billings recalling how the legislation was crafted from the ground up, much of which took place right here in Southern California.
Panelists will discuss the impact this and other legislation adopted by the State of California had on improving our local air quality, and its cascading impact on the entire nation and world. The event will conclude with comments on the work we have ahead, including protecting the California waiver and continued progress towards clean air and climate change.
WHY IS LEON BILLINGS IMPORTANT?
As a top aide for Senator Edmund Muskie, Billings was a primary author of the 1970 Clean Air Act and helped shape California’s unique authority, which authorizes it as the only state in the nation able to adopt and enforce its own motor vehicle emission standards after first obtaining a waiver of from the U.S. EPA. This important provision has allowed California to lead the nation and the world in cleaning up vehicle pollution and driving technological innovation.
Later, Billings played a pivotal role defending California when the state’s right to adopt more stringent standards was threatened. Over the past five decades, U.S. EPA has issued California more than 100 waivers driving key policy and technological developments resulting in cleaner air and improved quality of life nationally and internationally. These advances include lead-free gasoline, the three-way catalytic converter, on-board diagnostics, diesel particulate filters, low-emission and zero-emission vehicle standards.
Billings’ legacy leaves us all breathing easier. Cars today are 99% cleaner than they were in the 1970s. Airborne cancer risk in California has declined 68% as a result of the state’s efforts to clean up diesel exhaust. Today the air quality in Los Angeles has greatly improved, cutting down the number of air alerts from an annual high of 100 to less than 10 per year.
Despite these improvements, additional action is necessary to achieve health-based air quality standards especially in Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley. Every year the American Lung Association issues a “State of the Air” report ranking regions of the country on their relative air quality. And every year, California cities top the list of most polluted in the U.S. underscoring the importance of protecting Billings’ legacy of clean air.
“We were in a full-scale war between protecting public health and welfare from environmental degradation and the profit motives of corporate America.”— Leon Billings