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Second Prospective Study - 1990 to 2020
In March 2011, EPA issued the Second Prospective Report which looked at the results of the Clean Air Act from 1990 to 2020. According to this study, the direct benefits from the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments are estimated to reach almost $2 trillion for the year 2020, a figure that dwarfs the direct costs of implementation ($65 billion).
In 2020, the Clean Air Act Amendments will prevent over 230,000 early deaths. Most of the $2 trillion in economic benefits (about 85 percent) are attributable to reductions in premature mortality associated with reductions in ambient particulate matter.
A Good Investment for America
This net improvement in economic welfare is projected to occur because cleaner air leads to better health and productivity for American workers as well as savings on medical expenses for air pollution-related health problems. The beneficial economic effects of these two improvements alone are projected to more than offset the expenditures for pollution control.
Clean Air Act programs address a wide variety of air pollutants beyond the fine particle and
ozone pollution which emerged as the primary focus of this study’s quantitative results. The
data and modeling tools needed to estimate the health and environmental consequences of
these other pollutants, however, are limited. There is an ongoing need for investment in
research to improve the coverage of potentially important effects in benefit‐cost studies of air
pollution control programs. Additional research is also needed to reduce uncertainties in the
estimates of effects already incorporated in benefit‐cost studies, especially relatively significant
effects such as those associated with fine particle‐ and ozone‐related premature mortality and
the economic value of avoiding those outcomes.
Programs to reduce key Clean Air Act pollutants through national ambient concentration
standards such as those for fine particles and ozone, programs to address air pollutants with
more localized affects such as toxic compounds and heavy metals, and programs and policies
which reduce emissions of greenhouse gases may impose various requirements on a given
source of emissions. Future air pollution program assessments would be more useful to
policymakers and the public if they were designed to provide insights on the combined effects
of programs to address these different categories of air pollution.