NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 19, 2005

According to environmentalists, President Bush's second term will spell doom for clean air and clean water. But such hysteria simply flies in the face of the facts, according to Stephen Moore of National Review. The environment is actually getting cleaner, he says.

According to the American Enterprise Institute's 2004 Index of Leading Environmental Indicators:

  • Between 1976 and 2002, ozone ambient air pollution levels have declined 31 percent; sulfur dioxides are down by 70 percent and lead is down by 98 percent.
  • Over the past 50 years, air pollution emissions have declined by 3 percent annually relative to output -- indicating that industries have made substantial gains in efficiency.
  • Today's drinking water is cleaner than it was 50 years ago, and many polluted lakes and streams that were too dirty for human enjoyment 30 years ago are now available for fishing and recreation.

Free-market capitalism has helped the environment, says Moore, through private property rights, greater efficiency with resources and new technologies for clean air and water. In fact, the greatest environmental threats of the 20th century came from communist nations during the '50s, '60s and '70s, notes Moore.

Source: Stephen Moore, "Clearing the Air," National Review, December 31, 2004; and Stephen Hayward, "2004 Index of Leading Environmental Indicators," American Enterprise Institute, April 14, 2004.

For AEI report:


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