A study released yesterday by the Environmental Protection Agency proves EPA Clean Air regulations have and will save the country money, and not in insignificant amounts -- it is projected that up to $2 trillion dollars will be saved by 2020 as a direct result of smog and soot regulations placed on businesses in compliance with the Clean Air Act.
A rallying cry of the Republican party has largely been that environmentalists are anti-business, but this newest report shows how a cleaner environment is good for the economy, preventing millions of cases of heart disease, chronic respiratory illness, missed work and school days. Health care costs saved by prevention of these environmentally-induced ailments are astronomical, and even the study's most conservative future projection scenario shows a benefit to cost ratio of three to one. In the highest benefits assessment, benefits exceed costs 90 to 1.
To say the least, this is fabulous news for the environmental community, as there is now statistical back-up to prove that curtailing the worst-polluting business practices, even at initial cost to those businesses, results in great savings down the line. House leaders are currently trying to block government regulation of greenhouse gases, but the central argument that regulating ghgs is too costly in a bad economy no longer holds water.
From the EPA report: "The very wide margin between estimated benefits and costs, and the results of our uncertainty analysis, suggest that it is extremely unlikely that the monetized benefits of the CAAA over the 1990 to 2020 period reasonably could be less than its costs, under any alternative set of assumptions we can conceive."
Find the entire report here. ("CAAA" refers to Clean Air Act Amendments.")
In related news, Bill McKibben's March 1st essay in the Washington Post illuminates, on a less technical and more personal level, the popular misconception that regulating emissions is somehow anti-business or un-American. McKibben responds brilliantly to Glenn Beck's accusations of Communistic leanings. On Beck's show, the host apparently labeled McKibben's organization, 350.org, as Communist. In fact, 350.org is simply a campaign working to cap atmospheric C02 at 350 parts per million or less. Now that we know capping emissions is good for the country's coffers (and its coughers!), it will be interesting to see if Beck and others retract their accusations.
Read McKibben's essay here: My life as a communist