Air Quality Progress While Rolling Back Regulations

Irony abounds as the new Acting Administrator at EPA last Tuesday announced historic progress under the Clean Air Act even while the Administration works to roll back a number of Clean Air Act rules. On July 31, Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the release of a trends report entitled "Our Nation's Air," which summarizes air quality status and trends through the end of 2017. (Trends Report). The Report reflects on significant improvements in air quality since 1970. Overviews can be found here - (The Hill and here -- (USAToday).

Indeed, EPA's current webpage continues to tout the progress in cleaning the Nation's air. (Clean Air Act - - Improving Peoples Health) despite, and in apparent contrast to, the Administration's ongoing efforts to weaken or eliminate many of those regulations. This includes proposals to roll back standards for cleaner vehicle emissions (NYTimes, May 31, 2018), which were formally announced yesterday (Trump Submits Rule to Weaken Car Efficiency Standards), as well as proposed rollbacks for emissions from oil and grass drillings operations (Washington Post, March 1, 2018) and a litany of other air emission regulations (The Conversation: Pruitt's Approach to Pollution Control Will Make the Air Dirtier and Americans Less Healthy). Acting Administrator Wheeler has indicated that he will continue these proposals announced by previous Administrator Scott Pruitt. Of course, concerns have been raised by a variety of groups including notably the American Lung Association. (American Lung Association Criticizes Pruitt).

Undoubtedly, improvements in air quality since 1970 have been significant. This has had a measurable impact on human health. Unfortunately, prevention and avoidance-cost savings seem not to impress the Administration and many in the public who don't perceive these long-term benefits. It remains to be seen whether the proposed rollbacks will have the type of demonstrable adverse impacts that raise the concerns of groups such as the American Lung Association.

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