|HOW CLEAN IS CLEAN ENOUGH?|
September 12, 1997
Questions asked in this forum:
When will Govt. agencies be inspected for environmental compliance? Will diesel fuel ever be banned? Should the U.S. instigate a fee-based system to control pollution? What explains the increasing number of asthma cases? What lessons can environmentalists learn from the fight against the cigarette industry? Who controls pollution better: the states or the federal government? Where does a breath of fresh air fit into a cost-benefit analysis? Additional comments...
June 25, 1997:
Margaret Warner leads a discussion of the tougher clean air standards.
June 25, 1997:
Read our Online Forum: U.S.Representatives Julia Carson (D-IN) and Jim Gibbons (R-NV) debated the effectiveness of the EPA.
November 27, 1996:
The Environmental Protection Agency proposes to reduce smog levels by a third.
December 21, 1995:
Spencer Michels reports on the changing role of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Browse the Online NewsHour's coverage of the environment.
Environmental Protection Agency
Citizens for a Sound Economy advocates market-based solutions to public policy problems.
Air Quality Resources on the Internet.
Clean Air Act Information Network
A question from Keith Rasmussen of Westmont, IL:
If we tighten emissions standards in the U.S.A., but Mexico doesn't tighten its standards, nor do a better job of enforcing its existing standards, won't the Southwestern United States see a situation where it's exporting jobs to and importing pollutants from Mexico? Given that treaties and agreements can't be expected to result in significant emission reductions from Mexico's semi-functional democracy, is it in the U.S.A.'s best interest to tighten emissions standards in the southwest?
Paul Beckner of "Citizens for a Sound Economy" responds:
An excellent point. In fact, if a global warming treaty is signed, that's precisely what will happen. As treaty negotiations now stand, so-called "developing" nations -- such as China, Mexico, Brazil, Korea -- are exempted from emission-reduction requirements. So, while we would be required under the U.N. treaty to handcuff our economy, our direct competitors in the global market are specifically exempted.
As much as 75 percent of global carbon emissions are expected to come from developing countries by the year 2040. Without the commitment of developing nations, any effort to stabilize or reduce atmospheric concentrations of CO2 (whether necessary or not) will have little if any impact. More importantly, American business will find it very attractive to move jobs and financial resources to those countries with no carbon-reduction commitments.
In essence, we are being asked to hand over our potential for future economic growth and prosperity to the developing world with no tangible environmental benefits in return.
Carol Browner of the Environmental Protection Agency responds:
Achieving cleaner air along the U.S.-Mexico border will not result in the export of U.S. jobs. Since 1970, air pollution has significantly decreased. In fact, reductions in air pollution have occurred during a period of significant growth in population, vehicle miles traveled and gross domestic product (GDP). Despite a 99% increase in GDP between 1970 and 1995, through strong public health standards, the nation has experienced a significant trend in air quality improvement.
Moreover, there are provisions in the Clean Air Act as well as working groups of the NAFTA environmental commission that specifically address transport of air pollutants across international borders. The Agency continues to work closely with our Mexican colleagues to develop and implement joint air quality management programs to improve air quality in the border zone. Specifically, we are working with U.S. and Mexican Federal, State and local officials as well as industry, environmental groups, and universities, to establish air pollutant monitoring networks in border sister cities, estimate air pollutant emissions from sources such as cars and factories, and implement cost-effective and innovative control strategies to improve air quality in border areas.