NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

2004 Index of Environmental Indicators Shows Improvement

April 22, 2004

Environmental quality is actually improving in the United States, says Steven Hayward (American Enterprise Institute). According to the "2004 Index of Leading Environmental Indicators," Hayward and his coauthors note improvements in many areas:

  • Average vehicle emissions are declining by about 10 percent per year due to cleaner-burning vehicles; carbon monoxide has declined 75 percent since 1976.
  • Ninety-four percent of Americans use water systems with no reports of violations of health standards compared to only 79 percent in 1993.
  • Toxic releases have declined by 55 percent since 1988 in spite of an increase industry output by 40 percent.
  • The International Panel on Climate Change predicted an increase in carbon dioxide output by about 15 percent in the 1990s; in reality, the increase was only 6 percent.
  • Moreover, this year's index confirms that U.S. air quality is at least equal, if not slightly better, than Europe's.

The one area that has steadily declined, however, is the quality of public lands. Despite an increase in public funding, it is estimated that between 90 and 200 million acres of public land are at risk for fire due to bureaucratic mismanagement, notes the index.

Source: Steven F. Hayward, "2004 Index of Leading Environmental Indicators," American Enterprise Institute, April 2004.


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