Environment

Air Pollution is Great Again

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Air pollution in the United States was reduced by 24 percent during the Obama administration (2009-2016) but that trend has reversed and pollution is now increasing according to university researchers.

For a variety of attributable reasons, pollution increased by over 5 percent in Trump's first year and there's reason to believe that trend has continued.

From Bloomberg:

“We have been making such steady progress regarding air quality,” said C. Arden Pope III, a Brigham Young University economist and specialist on pollution’s threat to health. “This progress has resulted in substantial health benefits. It is disturbing to see what may be the beginning of deteriorating air quality in the U.S.” [...]

While pollution of this kind varies by region, month and even day, the negative changes observed by the researchers can’t be explained away by such fluctuations, said study co-author Nicholas Muller.

Muller and co-author Karen Clay looked at the substances hanging over U.S. cities and found evidence for three potential sources of the pollution rebound: increased economic activity, virulent wildfires and a smaller number of EPA enforcement actions. It is important to note that the pair have not made any causal links between the three suspects and the increase of air pollution.

The authors of the study did not have made a direct link between Trump regime policies and increased air pollution because an extraordinary claim like that requires extraordinary evidence.

With that said, I'm not an academic researcher and I don't think it's a stretch to say that Trump regime policies have enabled if not directly caused an increase in particulate matter in the air we breathe.

Times of economic growth are associated with increase emissions, but the economy has not expanded as much as it did during the Obama administration when pollution steadily decreased.

We know that Trump's EPA has virtually neutered environmental enforcement while also repealing or rolling back as many Obama-era regulations as they can.

Like extreme weather events and climate change, we don't necessarily have to directly attribute one to the other to acknowledge that the cumulative effect of Trump regime policies is to increase pollution.

It will take just as long if not longer for the next administration to restore regulations as it took the Trump regime to roll them back. What we really need is a Democratically-controlled Senate and House that could pass new regulations into federal law and prevent future Republican administrations from using their executive discretion and rule-making power to destroy environmental progress.

Republicans have only been able to repeal as many Obama-era regulations as they have because the Obama administration was forced to draft them at the federal level while our Republican-controlled Senate refused to do anything about anything.

A decade of intransigent control of the Senate has had significant consequences and it needs to end if a Democratic president wants to make significant progress on anything.

  • muselet

    The Obama years demonstrate that economic growth and reduced emissions are not mutually exclusive.

    It’s a lesson we need to remember in the (very near) future, when we—as a country and as a species—will have to get serious about climate change.

    –alopecia

    • Draxiar

      I’m with you on this. I would go so far as to say that reducing emissions and economic growth can, in fact, be partners for a long time to come when sustainable energy production becomes widespread and replace fossil fuels. It’s the next industrial revolution.

  • Scopedog

    Once more, to anyone out there who threw their votes to a third-party candidate in 2016 while arguing that Hillary would suck on the environment and how Obama didn’t do anything when it came to the environment:

    GO FUCK YOURSELVES. You own this as much as Trump and the GOP, thanks to your stupid purity nonsense.