Harvard Workshop on the Economics of the Clean Air Act: In Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Act

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Clean Air Act of 1970, the Harvard Environmental Economics Program (HEEP) conducted a Workshop on the Economics of the Clean Air Act on January 8, 2021. The 23 participants were primarily economists who have conducted research on aspects of environmental policy directly related to the Act. Three topics were covered: (1) the environmental effectiveness and economic efficiency of the Act over the past 50 years, that is, its cumulative benefits and costs, with focus on specific sections of the Act, including criteria air pollutants, hazardous air pollutants, and transboundary air pollutants (SO2 and acid rain); (2) the evolution and efficacy of specific policy instruments utilized, including performance standards, technology standards, and market-based instruments (largely emissions trading); and (3) business left unfinished by the Clean Air Act, with a focus on environmental justice.

Joseph Aldy, Professor of the Practice of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and HEEP Faculty Fellow, and Robert Stavins, A.J. Meyer Professor of Energy and Economic Development and HEEP Director, chaired the workshop.

Links to the workshop agenda, participant list, most presentations, and a video recording of the workshop are provided below.


Joseph Aldy and Robert Stavins, Co-Chairs

Worskhop Agenda

Workshop Participant List


Workshop Presentations:

Environmental Effectiveness and Economic Efficiency:

Maureen Cropper, University of Maryland

Janet Currie, Princeton University


Efficacy and Cost-Effectiveness of Policy Instruments:

Richard Schmalensee, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Meredith Fowlie, University of California, Berkeley


Unfinished Business - Distributional Impacts and Environmental Justice:

Jonathan Colmer, University of Virginia

Kyle Meng, University of California, Santa Barbara



A recording of the workshop is available below. 


Recording of the Harvard Workshop on the Economics of the Clean Air Act In commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Act