A new study from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency severely undercuts the Trump administration’s insistence that “job-killing” environmental regulations are impeding the country’s economic growth, USA Today reports.
“The U.S. leads the world in having clean air and a strong economy due to implementation of the Clean Air Act and technological advancements from American innovators,” the report concludes.
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The report “found that since Congress passed the Clean Air Act in 1970, the economy has more than tripled and the number of vehicle miles traveled every year has nearly doubled—all while the nation’s population and annual energy consumption has surged,” USA Today notes. “At the same time, the levels of six key air pollutants—carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter, and sulphur dioxide—have declined dramatically.”
Representatives of the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Petroleum Institute acknowledged the Clean Air Act has done its job, but claimed the next generation of smog rules would add major costs for little benefit.
“The problem is all of the big things you can do to reduce ozone pollution have been done,” said NAM’s vice president of energy and resources policy, Ross Eisenberg. “The marginal changes that you can make these days are going to cost a whole lot more than the low-hanging fruit you could have done in the ‘80s and ‘90s.”
But Bill Becker, former executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, said the U.S. should carry on with policies that boost air quality and make people healthier.
“You don’t take a successful program, recognize that it’s been working in terms of reducing emissions with an expanded economy, and then somehow decide to retreat as the administration is suggesting,” he told USA Today. “The Trends Report is reaffirming that it should be full speed ahead in the way we’ve been doing things, because it’s been working.”
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