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December 17, 1963 – Passing of the Clean Air Act

US Congress enacted the Clean Air Act of 1963 on this day in 1963, providing a range of guidelines to help reduce and prevent pollution. Among its most important components included federal program created to research techniques for monitoring and controlling air pollution. Interestingly, new emissions standards were outlined only for stationary sources of air pollution, but not mobile ones, such as cars.

However, it did lay the groundwork for automobile emission regulations. The frightened automakers argued they could not meet new emissions restrictions and the impact of the act on the auto industry would be dreadful on the economy. Ultimately, new emissions standards hit the industry with the passing of the Air Quality Act of 1967 and the Clean Air Amendments of 1970.

Above: Nixon signs the Air Quality Amendments of 1970. Top: Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Clean Air Act of 1963 into law. Here he’s talking to Former Ford President and then Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in 1967.

Upon signing the Clean Air Act of 1963 President Lyndon B. Johnson stated, “Now, under this legislation, we can halt the trend toward greater contamination of our atmosphere. We can seek to control industrial wastes discharged into the air. We can find the ways to eliminate dangerous haze and smog.”


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