Leon Billings, for­mer del­e­gate

Baltimore Sun - - OBITUARIES FROM PAGE ONE - The Bal­ti­more Sun contributed to this ar­ti­cle. — As­so­ci­ated Press

Leon G. Billings, a for­mer mem­ber of the Mary­land House of Del­e­gates from Mont­gomery County who was also a key au­thor of the fed­eral Clean Air Act and other land­mark en­vi­ron­men­tal laws, died Tues­day in Nashville, Tenn., af­ter suf­fer­ing a stroke while vis­it­ing fam­ily mem­bers. He was 78. Born in Mon­tana, Mr. Billings moved to Wash­ing­ton in 1962 and had a 50-year ca­reer in pol­i­tics and pub­lic pol­icy.

As the first staff di­rec­tor of the Se­nate En­vi­ron­ment sub­com­mit­tee, he was a pri­mary au­thor of the1970 Clean Air Act, one of the most in­flu­en­tial en­vi­ron­men­tal laws in U.S. history and a foun­da­tion for cur­rent air pol­lu­tion laws.

Mr. Billings also played a key role in the 1972 Clean Wa­ter Act, the pri­mary fed­eral law gov­ern­ing wa­ter pol­lu­tion, and1977 amend­ments to both the air and wa­ter pol­lu­tion laws.

He served as Maine Sen. Ed­mund Muskie’s en­vi­ron­ment ad­viser for more than a decade and later was the Demo­crat’s chief of staff in the Se­nate.

He also served that ca­pac­ity when Sen­a­tor Muskie was sec­re­tary of state un­der Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter.

Mr. Billings’ first wife, for­mer Mary­land Del. Pa­tri­cia Billings, died in 1990. Mr. Billings was ap­pointed to her seat rep­re­sent­ing Mont­gomery County.

The Demo­crat later won elec­tion in his own right, and served in the Gen­eral Assem­bly un­til 2003.

He fo­cused on en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues as a mem­ber of the En­vi­ron­men­tal Mat­ters Com­mit­tee, among oth­ers.

He is sur­vived by his wife, Cherry Billings of Bethany Beach, Del., and three chil­dren.

Mr. Billings’ son Paul, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Lung As­so­ci­a­tion, said his fa­ther learned the im­por­tance of ad­vo­cat­ing for so­cial jus­tice from his par­ents.

“Our air and wa­ter are cleaner and Amer­i­cans are health­ier be­cause of Leon Billings,” he said. “There was no greater pub­lic health cham­pion.”

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