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March 01, 2011

EPA Report Shows Tremendous Benefits of Clean Air Act

The Environmental Protection Agency just released a new report showing that benefits from "the 1990 Clean Air Act  amendments will reach approximately $2 trillion in 2020 while saving 230,000 people from early death in that year alone."

Let that sink in for a moment. While dirty industries have spent decades fighting pollution safeguards and trying to convince Americans that any form of protection from EPA will destroy the economy - the exact opposite is true:

EPA

  • Clean Air Act benefits exceed costs by a factor of 30:1 [$2 trillion in benefits to $65 billion in costs].
  • Cleaner air resulting from Clean Air Act programs improves the economy by reducing health costs and boosting productivity.

And here's more of a breakdown of the public health results from EPA. In 2010 alone, the reductions in fine particle and ozone pollution from the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments prevented more than:

  • 160,000 cases of premature mortality
  • 130,000 heart attacks
  • 13 million lost work days
  • 1.7 million asthma attacks

In 2020, the study projects benefits will be even greater, preventing more than:

  • 230,000 cases of premature mortality
  • 200,000 heart attacks
  • 17 million lost work days
  • 2.4 million asthma attacks

EPA set up a whole site for folks to review the report, check it out here.

We, of course, love all this good news. "Every single American benefits from clean air," said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. "The Clean Air Act has saved millions of Americans from heart attacks, asthma, and other illnesses. Without the Clean Air Act, Americans would be spending trillions of dollars on lost work days and health care costs."

Let's say it again: This study finds that despite the claims of the big polluters and their army of corporate lobbyists to the contrary, taking sensible steps to update clean air and water standards through the Clean Air Act does indeed foster innovation, job creation and economic growth while protecting public health and reducing early deaths in American adults and infants.  

Opponents of letting the EPA update clean air safeguards for smog, soot, mercury and carbon pollution say American businesses are not capable of innovating and adapting new technologies and creating new jobs;  yet this report makes clear that we can protect our health and grow our economy at the same time.

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