The Clean Air Act: Protecting Our Families and the Air We Breathe

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report estimating the economic, environmental and health benefits of the Clean Air Act over the period 1990 to 2020. This report, which is designed to provide Congress and the public with comprehensive, updated, and peer-reviewed information on the Act’s costs and benefits, reaches a clear conclusion: the Clean Air Act has been an incredible investment for America.

According to the study, the direct benefits of the Clean Air Act – in the form of cleaner air and healthier, more productive Americans – are estimated to reach nearly $2 trillion in the year 2020, exceeding the costs by a factor of more than 30 to one.  But this report also reminds us that the common sense provisions under the Clean Air Act are about more than economics – they are ultimately about the health of our families.

According to the report, in 2010 alone, the reductions in fine particle and ozone pollution from the Clean Air Act prevented more than:

  • 160,000 premature deaths
  • 130,000 heart attacks
  • 13 million lost work days
  • 1.7 million asthma attacks

This report puts to rest the old argument that we can’t have a healthy economy and a healthy environment – and serves as an important reminder of the need to protect the Clean Air Act from attacks. For decades, it has brought cleaner air to our children and avoided billions in health care costs.  And we need a strong Act to protect our children’s children for decades to come.

Heather Zichal is Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change
Related Topics: Energy and Environment