Energy, Energy Regulatory Policy, Climate
April 27th, 2017 1 Minute Read Issue Brief by Oren Cass

Will EPA Cuts Harm America's Air Quality?

Executive Summary

The U.S. has some of the cleanest air in the world, thanks to decades of steady progress that has persisted across Democratic and Republican administrations, as well as across EPA budget expansions and cuts. The EPA standard for fine particulate matter is more than twice as strict as Europe’s. The agency’s standard for ozone is so strict that some national parks exceed it and President Obama initially rejected it. While environmental activists will always demand larger budgets and tighter standards, Americans can rest assured that they will continue to benefit from outstanding air quality in the years to come.


Key Findings

  • Emissions of major air pollutants were 71% lower in 2015 than in 1970; emissions of air toxics were 60% lower in 2011 than in 1990.
  • Gains on every pollutant proceeded during the aggressive EPA budget and staff cuts of the Reagan administration and were generally as fast during the Reagan and Bush administrations as during the Clinton and Obama administrations.
  • The EPA has repeatedly tightened its standards for acceptable air quality, creating the appearance of serious health risks even as pollution continues to decline.



Oren Cass is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Follow him on Twitter here.


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