2 Center for American Progress | Groundhog Days
Far rom doing harm, hese pas air-polluion-proecion measures helped saeguard millions o people rom smog, acid rain, and soo paricles. Tese conaminans can lead o respiraory ailmens, rigger ashma atacks, and even cause premaure deahs.
Te recen hyperbolic rheoric around EPA proposals o ﬁnally conrol carbon polluion rom power plans is simply a repea o pas hyseria. Tese new saeguards are essenial or Americans’ healh and economy. aher han ocusing on biased sudies, oﬃcials and he press should ocus on he huge coss o climae inacion: more smog, more ashma atacks, more erocious sorms, more droughs, and more wildﬁres.
A history of hysteria
Beginning wih he debae over he Clean Air Ac o 1970, polluing indusries and heir sympahizers have been crying wol abou cos increases due o polluion conrols. For insance, in 1972, Carl G. Beard II,
direcor o he Wes Virginia Air Polluion Conrol Commission, esiﬁed beore he Senae Public Works Commitee ha compliance wih he Clean Air Ac o 1970 by “elecric energy companies” would lead o “misakes o ha indusry [ha] will be placed in he rae base o he elecric companies.”
He claimed ha, “Consumers o power will pay or hese cosly errors or he nex 25 o 30 years.” During he debae over he Clean Air Ac o 1977, “elecric uiliies and oher indusries complained ha scrubbers [o cu air polluion] were unreliable and cosly,” according o he
Congressional Quarerly Almanac 1977
Bu in 1981, he biparisan Naional Commission on Air Qualiy deermined ha such predicions o economic disaser under he Clean Air Ac were wrong. Te
Congressional Quarerly Almanac 1981
repored ha he commission made he ollowing ﬁndings:
Improved air qualiy had brough beneﬁs worh fom $4.6 billion o $51.2 billion per year, while coss o … polluion conrol equipmen were esimaed o have been $16.6 billion in 1978. … Te ac had no been an imporan obsacle o energy developmen. … Te law had no signiﬁcanly inhibied economic growh.
Te Congressional Budge Oﬃce similarly debunked huge rae claims, deermining in 1982 ha “he average naionwide conribuion o [polluion conrols on power plans] o oal uure generaing coss should remain quie small.”
Te implemenaion o he Clean Air Acs o 1970 and 1977 helped reduce air pollu-ion, proec public healh, and had a signiﬁcan ne economic beneﬁ o he naion.
New York imes
repored ha he Naional Commission on Air Qualiy deermined “ha he law had resuled in a ‘signiﬁcan’ cleaning up o he naion’s air and, even more imporan, prevened much more serious air problems.”
An EPA assessmen ound ha here were “ne, direc, moneized beneﬁs ranging rom 5.1 o 48.9 rillion dollars, wih a cenral esimae o 21.7 rillion dollars, or he 1970 o 1990 period,” due o reducions in diseases, learning impairmens, and premaure deahs.