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Criteria Pollutant Emissions and Precursors Decline 7 Percent Under Trump

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released its annual report on air quality, tracking the nation’s progress through 2019. The EPA reports that under President Trump (2017-2019), combined emissions of criteria pollutants and their precursors declined by 7 percent.

From the agency’s presser:

In the past three years under President Trump, we saw the following drops in emissions of criteria and precursor pollutants: 

  • Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) ↓10 % 
  • Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM 2.5) ↓1 %
  • Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) ↓ 16%
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) ↓ 6%
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) ↓ 3%

Concurrently, as criteria pollutant and precursor emissions declined, the number of days listed as unhealthy for sensitive groups in the Air Quality Index dropped by 34 percent:

  • Carbon Monoxide 8-Hour ↓ 10%
  • Lead (Pb) 3-Month Average ↓ 28%
  • Nitrogen Dioxide Annual ↓ 4%
  • Nitrogen Dioxide 1-Hour ↓ 2%
  • Ozone 8-Hour ↓ 4%
  • Particulate Matter 10 microns 24-Hour ↓ 22%
  • Particulate Matter 2.5 microns Annual ↓ 7%
  • Particulate Matter 2.5 microns 24-Hour ↓ 12%
  • Sulfur Dioxide 1-Hour ↓ 10%

Note: Those emission reductions occurred during the boom phase of the Trump economy and are not attributable to the coronavirus economic lockdown.

Taking the long view, President Trump is maintaining—not impeding, much less reversing—the nation’s progress in improving air quality. The presser continues:

Between 1970 and 2019, the combined emissions of criteria and precursor pollutants dropped by 77%, while the U.S. economy grew 285%. From 1990 to 2019, emissions of air pollutants continued to decline:

  • Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) ↓ 65% 
  • Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM 2.5) ↓ 36%
  • Particulate Matter 10, including lead (PM 10) ↓ 30%
  • Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) ↓ 91%
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) ↓ 69%
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) ↓ 47%

Yet progressive partisans, such as Save EPA, would have us believe that “the Trump takeover of EPA” is “throwing environmental protection in reverse.” The group’s June 4 report claims that virtually all Trump EPA policies have “one thing in common: They help polluters and harm the public, now and in the future.” The numbers in EPA’s latest Air Trends report put the lie to such bloviation.