Since several of the EPA regulations on the chopping block concern critical environmental issues, such as climate change, there are a few questions we should be asking ourselves. First, what benefit do we get from the EPA and environmental regulations? Second, why is the Trump Administration pushing to dismantle federal environmental protections? And third, what kind of impacts can we anticipate if Trump succeeds in significantly rolling back environmental protections? This post is part one of a three-part series that aims to consider these issues in further detail.
Part I: The Benefits of Federal Environmental Protections
Since its formation in 1970, the EPA has implemented a series of successful regulations, including those prohibiting use of the pesticide DDT, significantly reducing air emissions that cause acid rain, removing lead from gasoline and paint, and regulating asbestos as a pollutant. Despite false and misleading claims by opponents, data indicates that the benefits of environmental regulations far outweigh the costs and supports job creation. EPA regulations have eliminated dangerous toxins from out daily live while simultaneously promoting economic growth and adding social value.
Environmental Regulations Help Create Jobs
Environmental Regulations Promote the Economy and Add Social Value
Another way in which environmental regulations promote the economy is by keeping workers healthy. As a result of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, the U.S. added 13 million days of work and productivity to the economy in 2010. Even more important than the economic impact of the amendments is the social value added. In 2010, the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments saved an estimated 160,000 lives. By the end of 2011, the estimated number of total lives saved by the amendments will reach approximately 2 million people. Additional societal benefits include 86,000 fewer emergency room visits and 1.7 million fewer asthma attacks. With results like these, it is hard to ignore the benefits of environmental regulations.
So, what benefits do we get from the EPA and environmental regulation? Well, we increase employment, receive benefits that far exceed the costs expended to achieve them, we increase worker productivity, we protect public health, and last but not least we save lives. With pronounced benefits such as these, why would the Trump administration push for rollbacks of environmental regulations? Part two of this series will explore Trump’s motivation for eliminating environmental protections.