So What Does the Clean Air Act Do?

Today, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. In her testimony the Administrator highlighted the agency's ongoing efforts to develop sensible standards that update the Clean Air Act, while ensuring that the landmark law continues to provide Americans the protections from dangerous pollution that they deserve. These reasonable steps will ensure that the air our children breathe and the water they drink is safe, while also providing certainty to American businesses.

Despite these pragmatic steps to implement long overdue updates, big polluters are trying to gut the Clean Air Act by asking Congress to carve out special loopholes from air pollution standards.  

The Clean Air Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency the necessary tools to protect our families from a number of harmful pollutants that can cause asthma and lung disease – especially in children.  Weakening these standards would allow more pollution in the air we breathe and threaten our children’s health. We thought it might be helpful to refresh everyone on how this landmark law affects our country and protects our health.

  • 160,000 Lives Saved Last Year
    In the year 2010 alone, clean air regulations are estimated to have saved over 160,000 lives.
     
  • More than 100,000 Hospital Visits Avoided Last Year
    In 2010, clean air standards prevented millions of cases of respiratory problems, including bronchitis and asthma. It enhanced productivity by preventing millions of lost workdays, and kept kids healthy and in school, avoiding millions of lost school days due to respiratory illness and other diseases caused or exacerbated by air pollution.
     
  • 60% Less Pollution in Our Air, Strong Economic Growth and Lower Electricity Prices
    Since 1970, the Clean Air Act has reduced key air pollutants that cause smog and particulate pollution by more than 60%.  At the same time the economy more than tripled.  And Since the Clean Air Act Amendments in 1990, electricity production is up and prices are down.  In 2009, electric utilities delivered 33 percent more electricity to U.S. households and businesses than in 1990, while nationwide electricity prices were 10 percent lower.
     
  • Benefits Far Out Weigh Costs
    Over its forty-year span, the benefits of the Clean Air Act – in the form of longer lives, healthier kids, greater workforce productivity, and ecosystem protections – outweigh the costs by more than 30 to 1.
Heather Zichal is Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change
Related Topics: Energy and Environment
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