Jordan Candler / Aug. 2, 2018

A Fresh-Smell Environment

EPA data shows that pollution is way down, but don’t expect the ecofascists to acquiesce.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) annual “Our Nation’s Air” report is hot off the press. Notwithstanding the ecofascists’ complaints to the contrary, the report underscores the impressive extent to which our nation’s air has been purified.

Since 1990, air pollutant concentrations are astonishingly improved. Carbon monoxide eight-hour concentration is down 77%. Some other reductions include lead three-month average (80%), nitrogen dioxide (50% and 56% depending on the time interval), eight-hour ozone (22%), particulate matter (between 34% and 41% depending on the variable), and one-hour sulfur dioxide (88%). The report also notes that “from 1990 to 2014 emissions of air toxics declined by 68 percent.”

This while the economy’s taking off. According to the report, “Between 1970 and 2017, the combined emissions of the six common pollutants … dropped by 73 percent. This progress occurred while the U.S. economy continued to grow, Americans drove more miles and population and energy use increased.” In fact, Investor’s Business Daily points out, “By comparison, during that time the U.S.‘ economy grew 262% and its population by 60%.”

IBD also offers this important sidebar: “Not included in the report, but equally if not more significant, is the fact that CO2 — the main greenhouse gas — overall has plunged 29% since peaking in 2007. That’s been the relentless focus of global warming activists and the left-leaning power elites from their policy perches.”

And as for the ecofascists’ forthcoming demands for additional regulations in light of the demonstrable improvements made by past government oversight, IBD cautions, “The problem with this, of course, is that ‘tougher’ rules are often counter-productive. There’s something in economics called the 80-20 rule, or Pareto principle, that’s valid here. It says that 80% of the improvement in anything comes from 20% of the effort. The final 20% of improvement requires 80% of the total effort — often a waste of money and effort. That’s where we are with environmental improvements, unfortunately.”

This is where, as John Stossel suggested last year, the EPA needs to declare victory and then take a backseat. As he noted, “The agency was necessary in 1970, when it was created. At the time, cities dumped whatever we flushed into nearby waterways — with no treatment. … Now, in a rational world, the EPA would say, ‘Stick a fork in it, it’s done! EPA now stands for "Enough Protection Already.”’ But bureaucracies never say they’re done. ‘Done’ means bureaucrats are out of work. Can’t have that.“

The same goes for the environmental lobby. The air will never be clean enough for them — regardless of what the evidence says. But rest assured that, relative to the past, the air you breathe today is especially refreshing.

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