City of Minneapolis supports federal Clean Air Act
The Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Rybak have added an item to the City’s federal legislative agenda supporting enforcement of the Clean Air Act, including sections related to greenhouse gas pollution. The Clean Air Act is the law that defines the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s responsibilities for improving the nation's air quality to improve human health and welfare. In 2007 the Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases are pollutants under the act, and the City of Minneapolis urges the federal government to use the Clean Air Act to address the serious threat greenhouse gas emissions pose to both air quality and climate change.
Between 1970 and 1990, the six main pollutants covered by the Clean Air Act – particulate matter and ground-level ozone (both of which contribute to smog and asthma), carbon monoxide, lead, sulfur and nitrogen oxides (the acid gases that cause acid rain) – were reduced by between 47 percent and 93 percent in the U.S., and airborne lead was virtually eliminated. Air pollutants expose more Americans to conditions that result in illness and death due to respiratory illness, heat-related stress and insect-borne diseases. These fall most heavily on our most vulnerable communities, including children, older adults, those with serious health conditions and poor people. After the 1970 Clean Air Act, air quality in the U.S. has improved significantly.
In 2010 alone, nationally the Clean Air Act prevented:
- 160,000 premature deaths.
- 1.7 million asthma attacks.
- 54,000 cases of chronic bronchitis.
- 41,000 respiratory and 45,000 cardiovascular hospital admissions.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2020 the Clean Air Act Amendments will prevent more than 230,000 early deaths. The Clean Air Act has produced economic benefits valued at $2 trillion, which is 30 times the cost of regulation ($65 billion).
For more information on ways the City of Minneapolis protects our air – including an ordinance that limits idling within city limits, a “Green Fleet” policy, and bike and pedestrian programs – visit www.minneapolismn.gov.
Published Feb. 24, 2012