UC Law Journal


The 1970 Clean Air Act is arguably Congress’ most important environmental enactment. Since it became law fifty years ago, much could be and has been said about how it has changed both the physical environment and the contours of environmental law. Much less, however, has been written on the genesis of the Act itself. Where its history is discussed, it is often segmented or heavily summarized.

In this Article, we take on the story of how the Act came to be as well as how early enforcement practices cemented its importance in the legal landscape. To do so, we rely upon an unprecedented analysis and synthesis of previously underexplored strands of the story, incorporating many unmined sources and original research. This story weaves together the contributions of officials and staff in the Nixon Administration, Congress, and the judiciary to provide what is hoped to be an integrated, meaningful, and readable account of the making of the Clean Air Act.

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