NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 30, 2007

Since 1980, Americans have nearly doubled the number of annually driven automobile miles, leaving many to believe that the nation's air has significantly worsened, says the Appalachian.

However, the National Center for Policy Analysis gives a somewhat different take on this information.   According to Joel M. Schwartz, a national environmental consultant and visiting fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, and author of an NCPA report on the subject:

  • Because of a law originally adopted by the Clinton administration in 1999 and implemented by the Bush administration in 2004, all cars 2004 and newer have 90 percent reduced emissions compared to all older cars.
  • Additionally, there have been dozens of other laws such as the Clean Air Interstate Rule and the Clean Air Mercury Rule that will slash emissions from power plants by 75 percent in the next 25 years.

These laws have also reduced pollution from industrial centers and consumer product plants, says Schwartz:

  • Between 1980 and 2005, lead air levels dropped 96 percent, sulfur dioxide reduced 63 percent, and carbon monoxide concentrations fell 74 percent.
  • Fine particulate matter was reduced 40 percent; soot, nitrogen oxide and organic compounds decreased too.
  • And in 2006, there were no code red ozone days.

In the next 10 to 15 years, cars will be 90 percent cleaner than the increasingly cleaner cars today, says Schwartz.  And because of the constant turnover of cars, society is approaching near-zero emission vehicles.

Source: Jillian Swords, "Air quality reality may differ from common perception," The Appalachian, May 29, 2007.

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