Declining Air Pollution over the Eastern U.S.


Yesterday, I discussed NRDC’s false claim that ozone will rise in the future due to climate change. I showed how NRDC generated the false appearance of rising ozone by assuming that ozone-forming emissions will rise more than 30% between 2006 and 2050. In reality, ozone-forming emissions will continue to drop and most will be eliminated long before 2050. A couple of EPA news items provide additional evidence on how much emissions have dropped and will continue to drop due to existing regulations.

First, the NOx Budget Trading Program has eliminated most NOx emissions from industry and power plants during the last few years. Here’s EPA’s press release announcing the latest results of the program:

EPA Report: Smog Thinner, Skies Healthier over Eastern U.S.

Contacts: Jennifer Wood, (202) 564-4355 / [email protected]
Dale Kemery, (202) 564-4355 / [email protected]

(Washington, D.C. – Sept. 27, 2007) Smog-forming emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from power plants and industry have declined significantly in 19 eastern states and the District of Columbia. The NOx Budget Trading Program (NBP) annual report, released today, indicates that summertime NOx emissions were seven percent lower than in 2005, 60 percent lower than in 2000 and 74 percent lower than in 1990.

You can download the full report at

Second, EPA has just approved New Jersey’s NOx emissions control plan. EPA’s press release begins:

EPA Approves New Jersey’s Plan to Reduce Nitrogen Oxide Pollution

Contact: Elias Rodriguez (646) 369-0063 or (212) 637-3664, [email protected]

(New York, N.Y. -– Sept. 26, 2007) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved New Jersey’s revised plan to reduce certain air pollutants in the Garden State. The plan enables the state to carry out the provisions of EPA’s Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), which will permanently cap emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the eastern United States…

When fully implemented, CAIR will reduce SO2 emissions in 28 eastern states and the District of Columbia by more than 70 percent and NOx emissions by more than 60 percent from 2003 levels.

EPA has for years been issuing and implementing a steady stream of regulations like these–regulations that cover everything from power plants, to motor vehicles, industrials facilities, consumer products, and just about everything else you can imagine. These regulations will eliminate the vast majority of remaining air pollution emissions during the next two decades or so.

Environmental groups closely follow, comment on, and lobby over the development, adoption, and implementation of these regulations, and know that they have been eliminating large amounts of air pollution emissions and will continue to do so. Nevertheless, these same environmental groups routinely tell Americans that air pollution is worsening, that the Clean Air Act has been “gutted” and “rolled back”, and that emissions are rising.

NRDC’s Heat Advisory report is part and parcel of this pattern of misinformation from environmental groups on air pollution trends. Despite the large declines in air pollutant emissions during the last few decades and the large declines coming over the next couple of decades, NRDC assumed that ozone-forming emissions in the 2050s will be the same as they were back in 1996 (more than 30% greater than current emissions). When challenged on this, NRDC’s Dan Lashof lamely asserted “While we would expect significant reductions in precursor emissions over the next decade there are no reliable estimates of precursor emissions extending to the mid 21st century.”

Let’s see. There’s the Clean Air Interstate Rule; there are the emissions standards requiring about a 90% reduction in emissions from on- and off-road motor vehicles; the MACT standards for industry; and dozens of other emissions caps that together will eliminate the vast majority of current ozone-forming emissions. But in environmentalists’ looking-glass world none of this is anywhere near as reliable for predicting the future as computer model forecasts of what the Earth’s climate will be doing 50 or 100 years from now.

Unfortunately, most journalists report activists’ air pollution lies with little or no critical review. As a result, when polled most Americans say air pollution has stayed the same or worsened during the last few decades and will worsen in the future–beliefs that are the polar opposite of reality.


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