3 March 2011

EPA report claims trillion dollar savings thanks to Clean Air Act

Benefits from the 1990 Clean Air Act (CAA) amendments will reach $2 trillion by 2020, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Businesses and the economy have benefited from the CAA according to this week’s Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act from 1990 to 2020 report, partly because people take fewer sick days.

The act, originally passed in 1963 but significantly amended in 1970 and again in 1990, was designed to improve air quality in the US through reducing air pollution.

In 2010 the amendments prevented 13 million lost workdays and the EPA expects this to be as much as 17 million in 2020.The EPA and the CAA are hot button topics in the US at the moment with cuts passed by the Republicans in the House of Representatives much deeper than those proposed by the White House.

The proposed measures will strip nearly a third from the EPA budget, and could see plans for EPA regulations on carbon emissions are restricted. The cuts will now go before the Democrat dominated Senate

The Republican Party and business groups claim the EPA is stifling job creation and they oppose plans for EPA regulations against stationary sources of emissions, such as power stations and oil refineries.

But according to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson the CAA has, for decades, successfully helped people live healthier, safer lives and been good for the economy.

"This report outlines the extraordinary health and economic benefits of one of our nation's most transformative environmental laws and demonstrates the power of bipartisan approaches to protecting the health of the American people from pollution in our environment."

As part of the 1990 amendments, legislation requires the EPA to periodically research the benefits and costs of the Clean Air Act.They calculated the potential costs of implementing the CAA would be $65 billion in 2020, just over three per cent of the money that could be saved by the act.

Road transport makes up almost half of these costs; this comes mainly from meeting fuel composition requirements and exhaust pipe standards as well as implementing vehicle inspection and maintenance programmes.Aside from the economic benefits, the EPA calculates that the CAA has also saved lives and will continue to do so.

The report shows that 160,000 premature deaths were prevented by the CAA amendments in 2010 and this figure is set to rise to 230,000 by 2020.

The EPA report received review and input from the Council on Clean Air Compliance Analysis, an independent panel of economists, scientists and public health experts established by Congress in 1991.


Image: Marfis 75 | flickr

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