Study: After improving, U.S. air quality has deteriorated since 2016

An analysis of Environmental Protection Agency data done by two economists at Carnegie Mellon University reveals that, while the U.S. saw an improvement in air quality between 2009 and 2016, that positive movement has reversed since 2016. CBS News reports that the researchers, Karen Clay and Nicholas Muller, “found that particulate matter air pollution fell 24% in the U.S. from 2009 to 2016, but it increased 5.5% the following two years.” I wonder if there are any conclusions we could draw from that information? 

According to the researchers, the worsening of air quality is due to three factors: the continuing increases in our economic activity—meaning more cars and trucks on the road; the uptick in recent years of wildfires across the western states; and last but by no means least, the reduction in Clean Air Act “enforcement actions.” Clay says that around 9,700 premature deaths in 2018 were associated with deteriorating air conditions.

You would think that, given the choice between someone who is going to poison the air we breathe versus someone who promises to work to make that air cleaner, most people would choose the latter. Unfortunately, a lot of people voted for Donald Trump, and around 30-something percent of those people would attach tailpipes to their mouths if he told them to, it seems.

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