Richard Ayres is one of the nation's leading experts on the law of the atmosphere. Ayres has shaped the nation's atmosphere law since the passage of the Clean Air Act of 1970.
Ayres co-founded the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in 1970, where he led the organization's clean air project for twenty years. There he shaped the implementation of many Clean Air Act programs. During Congressional consideration of amendments to the Clean Air Act in 1977, 1980, and 1990, he led the National Clean Air Coalition, which included the major environmental and public health organizations, and labor unions, churches, and civic organizations. The Coalition successfully sought important additions to the national clean air program, including protection of pristine areas, and control of acid rain pollutants.
At NRDC and as a private attorney, he has handled nearly three dozen cases in the federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States, involving the interpretation and enforcement of the Clean Air Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. In 1979, he achieved the largest single reduction in pollution in American history in litigation with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). In 1998, he negotiated a settlement of the largest air pollution enforcement case ever brought against a manufacturer of vehicle engines.
Ayres is currently is the head of the Ayres Law Group, which represents clients before EPA, the Congress, and the federal courts. He also advises senior level management on environmental compliance and planning. Currently he is engaged in a major interstate nuisance case, as well as the efforts to enact global warming legislation.
Ayres was appointed by President Carter to the National Commission on Air Quality in 1978. He was a member of the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Regulatory Decisionmaking from 1991-1994. In 1988, Ayres was recognized by the Yale Law School Association of Washington for his outstanding service to the public interest. In 1989, he was honored by the Yale Law School Environmental Law Association for his role in creating the public interest law movement.
Ayres currently serves on the Boards of Trustees of the Vermont Law School and the Natural Resources Defense Council, as well as The Breakthrough Technology Institute, and the international Clean Air Initiative.