Facts Not Fear on Air Pollution

Policy Reports | Energy and Natural Resources

No. 294
Monday, December 11, 2006
by Joel Schwartz


Virtually everyone would agree that we need clean air and that people have a right to be free from unreasonable risks imposed by others. But current air pollution standards are already more than stringent enough to protect people's health. Regulatory programs are cloaked in the language of public health. But they are really about protecting and expanding the powers of federal and state regulators, creating competitive advantage for businesses that can effectively work the system, and allowing environmental activists to override people's preferences and impose their own values regarding how Americans ought to live, work and travel.

"Journalists should give the public accurate information."

Americans need and deserve an air quality regulatory system that is narrowly tailored to solve real problems, rather than used to expand and perpetuate the power of government bureaucracies, environmental activists and other special interests. The first step to achieving this goal is more realistic public information about air pollution levels, trends and, especially, health risks, as well as greater public understanding that regulators and environmental activists are special interests in same way as other participants in regulatory policy debates, and that they often pursue policies that are at odds with the interests and values of most Americans.

Journalists have so far failed to turn a critical eye on our air pollution regulatory system or to look beneath the surface of activists' and regulators' press releases. Yet among the major providers of public information on the environment, reporters are in the best position to turn the tide of misinformation on air pollution.  It would be a breath of fresh air if they took up this challenge. 

NOTE: Nothing written here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the National Center for Policy Analysis or as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any bill before Congress.

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