Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Guest Post: A Response from the Authors of Struggling for Air

[Editor's note: We recently published a critique of the book Struggling for Air by two key staff authors of the 1970 Clean Air Act: Billings-Jorling letter . We are pleased today to publish a response, below, by the book's authors. We would encourage you to read the book -- and the subsequent correspondence.]

September 13, 2016

Dear Mr. Billings and Mr. Jorling,

We were very sorry to hear of your dissatisfaction with Struggling for Air, as we are great admirers of your work and of the major public health victories you made possible. While we respect your opinions, we do feel that several of your criticisms are the result of misunderstandings regarding the content and intent of our book.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Guest Post: Setting the Record Straight on the Clean Air Act

--by Leon G. Billings and Thomas C. Jorling

[Editor's note: a recent book by two academics, Struggling for Air, was critical of the content and process associated with the writing of the 1970 Clean Air Act.  The book has prompted the following open letter by two people intimately involved with the law's drafting.  I should note that I worked for Mr. Billings for about a decade, some years after his federal service.  He has never received sufficient credit for his service -- or for a law that has produced such dramatic success. (If it's so bad, why are the big polluters always trying to change it? See Dirty-AirBnB.)  But let the letter below speak for itself.  UPDATE: About two months after this piece was published, Mr. Billings died of a stroke. See the following obituary in the New York Times New York Times obituary on Leon Billings]

Earlier this year, in a book entitled, Struggling for Air, the authors to whom this letter is addressed included observations, conclusions and innuendo that misrepresented the actions, questioned the motives and insulted the authors of the Clean Air Act of 1970. 
Their allegations appear to be based on publications by academics who were not involved in the legislative process and had no access to the debates which shaped the Clean Air Act.  The fundamental premise of Struggling for Air, that there was a “grandfather clause” in the law, has no basis in fact.  It is simply false. 
 As the principal staff authors of the 1970 Act, we believe it important to respond to set the record straight and to properly present the actions of the great men who we served.  Please feel free to share this and to respond.  Leon was the staff director for Senator Edmund S. Muskie from 1966-1978 and Tom was Minority Counsel for Senator John Sherman Cooper from 1968-1972. [Note: Jorling was later New York State Environmental Commissioner under Governor Mario Cuomo.]