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newsrel -- California Clean Air Luminaries Gather to Celebrate Architect of Clean Air Act

Posted: 11 May 2017 14:28:05

Please consider the following news release from the California
Air Resources Board:



May 11, 2017



Stanley Young
(916) 322-2990

Sarah Nightingale
(951) 827-4580

California Clean Air Luminaries Gather to Celebrate Architect of
Clean Air Act 

Friends, Family and Colleagues of Leon Billings to celebrate
legacy of visionary Clean Air Act architect 

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – 

WHAT: 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
•	Jerry Lewis, Former Congressman, California’s 41st district
•	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
•	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 

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.  



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

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. 


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

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