Lessons from the Clean Air Act


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Ann E. Carlson and Dallas Burtraw
The Alternative Energy Future

This publication summarizes the conclusions from a multiyear study convened by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as part of its Alternative Energy Future initiative. The full results of this research are available as a separate volume entitled Lessons from the Clean Air Act: Building Durability and Adaptability into U.S. Climate and Energy Policy (Cambridge University Press, 2019). We are grateful to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for supporting this study, and to the Kresge Foundation for underwriting a series of workshops to discuss our conclusions with scholars and policy-makers across the country.

We are grateful to the other members of our research team—Joseph E. Aldy, William Boyd, Eric M. Patashnik, Barry G. Rabe and Hannah J. Wiseman—who devoted countless hours to research and writing and patiently responded to several rounds of review and requests for revisions. We are also indebted to Academy members Maxine Savitz and Granger Morgan, cochairs of the Alternative Energy Future project, and project advisors Barbara Kates-Garnick and Judson Jaffe for generously sharing their advice and expertise.

Myron Gutmann, former Associate Director for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences at the National Science Foundation, encouraged us to pursue this study and funded an initial workshop in February 2013 to shape its design. We thank the participants at that workshop, as well as those who attended a workshop in Washington, D.C., in March 2017 to discuss our preliminary analysis. Their many comments and suggestions had a tremendous influence on our final conclusions.

The Academy provided extraordinary organizational support for this study. We are especially grateful to John Randell, John E. Bryson Director of Science, Engineering, and Technology Programs at the Academy, for his strong facilitation of this project, as well as his colleagues Alison Leaf, Gregory Savageau, Zackory Burns, Shalin Jyotishi and Rachel Johnson. Kristen McCormack and Amelia Keyes from Resources for the Future provided critical analytical support and offered substantial feedback on the drafts of the chapters. Garrett Lenahan, Matthew Schneider, Simon Vickery and Christi Zaleski provided important research support at the beginning of the project, and their thorough analysis of the prior scholarship, legislation and key judicial decisions pertaining to the Clean Air Act provided a strong foundation for this study. Sarah Aldy skillfully distilled and edited the chapters in Lessons from the Clean Air Act to create this companion executive summary.

Above all, we owe an incalculable debt of gratitude to the late Robert W. Fri, who chaired the Academy’s Alternative Energy Future project from 2010 until his death in October 2014. Bob was the intellectual driver behind this research, and his vision and spirit have continued to guide this project. We and countless others benefited from his extraordinary wisdom and leadership over the course of his long career. Lessons from the Clean Air Act is dedicated to his memory.