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NTC NEW REPORT SHOWS CLEAN AIR BENEFITS SIGNIFICANTLY OUTWEIGH COSTS

Release Date: 10/21/97
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FOR RELEASE: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 21, 1997
NEW REPORT SHOWS CLEAN AIR BENEFITS SIGNIFICANTLY OUTWEIGH COSTS


EPA today released a report required by Congress showing that from 1970 to

1990 the public health protection and environmental benefits of the Clean Air Act

(CAA) exceeded the costs of its programs by a huge margin.

Using a sophisticated array of computer models, EPA found that by 1990, if the CAA had not been enacted, 205,000 Americans would have died prematurely, and millions more would have suffered illnesses ranging from mild respiratory symptoms to severe respiratory problems such as heart disease, chronic bronchitis and asthma attacks. In addition, the lack of controls on the use of leaded gasoline would have resulted in a significant decrease in children’s intelligence quotients, and a substantial increase in adult hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.

From 1970 to 1990, EPA estimates that the total benefits of CAA programs ranged from about $6 trillion to about $50 trillion, with an average benefit of about $22 trillion. These estimates represent the value of avoiding the dire air quality conditions and dramatic increases in illness and premature death which would have prevailed without the Act.

By contrast, the actual costs of achieving the pollution reductions over the same 20 year period were $523 billion, a small fraction of the estimated monetary benefits.

In addition, there are a large number of human health and environmental benefits which could not be quantified and expressed in dollar terms, including the control of cancer-causing air toxics, as well as the ecological benefits of reducing pollutants such as lead, ozone and particulate matter.

Today’s retrospective study was designed and developed over a six-year period, and received extensive peer review by an independent panel of distinguished economists, scientists and public health experts. It is the first in an ongoing series of EPA cost/benefit reports to Congress. The next study, already under development, will estimate the benefits and costs of programs implementing the 1990 CAA Amendments.

The abstract and executive summary of today’s report, “The Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act, 1970 to 1990,” (October 1997), can be downloaded off the Internet, web address: http://www.epa.gov/oar/oario.html. A limited number of paper copies of the full report are available from Catrice Jefferson at 202-260-5580. For further technical information on the report, contact Jim DeMocker at 202-260-8980, or E-Mail him at: democker.jim@epamail.epa.gov.

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