Baker Center: Publications and Other Works

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In 1970, the U.S. Congress passed the Clean Air Act, arguably the most comprehensive environmental legislation ever enacted, and in so doing, launched the modern environmental movement. In the decades since, guided by the act's provisions and amendments, America has achieved significant strides in clearing the nation’s air.

The act's creation resulted from remarkable collaboration between two senators who sat on opposite sides of the aisle: Howard Baker, a Republican from Tennessee, and Edmund Muskie, a Democrat from Maine. Drafted in response to a glaring need and facilitated through bipartisan "comity," as Senator Muskie termed it, the act continues to evolve and inspire new efforts to protect the health of all Americans while preserving the nation’s environmental resources.

As the directors of three organizations situated at the crossroads of science-based environmental protection, sustainable economic development, and public policy, we had long wanted to collaborate on a program that explored the history and evolution of the Clean Air Act. We also hoped to examine current and future air-quality challenges. Our plans reached fruition on March 9, 2005, at the University of Tennessee, when we hosted the conference "Cleaning America's Air: Progress and Challenges." The conference assembled a panel of esteemed experts and drew an audience of thousands of scientists, policy-makers, students, faculty, media representatives, and interested citizens.

This book represents a compilation of the conference presentations and provides a historical narrative, as well as regional, national, and global perspectives on the policy and science of air quality.

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