Posted in: Opinion,
by Patrick DeHaan on Apr 22, 2014 01:00 PM
Today marks the 44th anniversary of the start of a movement to clean and protect the environment of the United States. The Clean Air Act of 1970 was a huge step forward in cleaning up so much that was wrong with environmental policy decades ago.
The result is profound, especially when it comes to air pollution: huge reductions of pollution from burning gasoline and diesel. Had the Clean Air Act not been established, we could be looking at pollution clouds, smog, and health impacts for millions, but instead, as I write this in my Chicago office, the sky is a deep blue and I can see for dozens of miles.
Today, the type of gasoline we buy and how clean it is depends on where you are and how many cars are on the roads in those areas. Many major cities use reformulated gasoline that burns far cleaner. For those areas that don't require the strict reformulated gasoline, they still use a cleaner version of gasoline, depending on pollution levels. All areas across the country switch to cleaner fuels in summer, but how clean varies.
While switching to these blends of gasoline brings higher prices, it also brings cleaner air than we could otherwise have during the months we're most active. Would you rather save 10-25 cents per gallon, or have clouds of pollution over your head with visibility significantly reduced? We all know how bad the pollution in China is, and while they're trying to clean up, they should look to the Clean Air Act of 1970 for some pointers.
As we continue down a road that's bringing lower air pollution, we still aren't done. As we sit today, EPA is still working on new standards that would cut even further the amount of sulfur in gasoline. Some oil companies say the results aren't worth the costs to motorists, and environmental groups say it would.
So while we sit here and enjoy clean air, remember we've come a long way- and while "summer gasoline" is often cited for higher gas prices, remember the reason we have these laws- cleaner air for everyone.