EPA Report Touts Trending U.S. Air Quality Improvements
Air quality in the United States is the cleanest it has been in decades, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week. A new air quality report by the agency states combined emissions of six common pollutants have fallen 74 percent since the passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970.
Speaking on the Senate floor on Wednesday, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works praised the Trump administration for reducing regulation and helping to improve the environment.
“We have a White House dedicated to clean air, land, and water by cutting excessive, duplicative regulations… We’re seeing significant progress in environmental protection that we have not seen in any other administration,” Inhofe said, speaking in front of a large graph showing emissions levels falling while the economy grew.
“Americans should know the truth about how this administration is leading the world in environmental gains all the while growing the economy.”
For some specific pollutants, the reductions have been steep. Sulfur dioxide emissions have fallen 88 percent since 1990 as power plants and other industrial users adopt cleaner fuels and better technology and nitrogen oxide emissions have fallen 59 percent.
For Inhofe, the former chairman of the Senate committee, the report’s findings were encouraging.
“[The act has] gone down in history as one of the true great successes that happened in this country in terms of the environment and we’re all a part of this,” he said.
During the same period, the U.S. economy grew 275 percent. These changes reflect the development of new technologies that made manufacturing and generation more energy efficient and the transition away from fuel oil and coal.
During a White House event last week President Trump and administration officials spoke of America’s environmental leadership.
“A strong economy is vital to maintaining a healthy environment,” Trump said. “When we innovate, produce, and grow, we’re able to unleash technologies and processes that make the environment better while reshoring and, so importantly — you look at reshoring production all the way — taking it away from foreign polluters, and back to American soil.”
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said at the event American air is the cleanest on record and the country has become a global leader for access to clean drinking water.
“The truth is, when other countries need help cleaning up their air, water, or land, they turn to us for assistance — not China, not Russia,” Wheeler said. “We have the environmental laws, we develop the technologies, and we get the job done. America is and will remain the gold standard for environmental protection.”
To Inhofe, this is further evidence of the benefits of a free market system over government regulations. In his speech this week, he criticized “environmentalists and Democrats” for pushing the Green New Deal, which would eliminate beef, air travel, and oil and gas.
“[I]n 2018, the United States became the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas and net exporter of oil and natural gas—fossil fuels—for the first time in 75 years,” Inhofe continued, adding that he was “particularly proud” of this because he came from an oil state.
“I know how many jobs are tied to it, I know what’s happening to our economy, and a lot of that can be contributed to using the proper energy sources that we have available to us.”