Startling return on investment

March 18, 2010

The American Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has calculated the financial benefits of the US Clean Air Act, and says it has saved more than $21 trillion (21 x 1012). Taking the estimated monetised benefits of the Act from 1970 to 1990 – in the areas: mortality, chronic bronchitis, lost IQ, hypertension, hospital admissions, respiratory-related problems, soil damage, visibility and agriculture – the savings come to $22.171 trillion.

By contrast, the compliance costs – cleaner air, water etc – total $500 billion (500 x 109) over the same period. The EPA’s cost/benefit estimates for the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments, aimed at combating acid rain, ozone destruction and other air pollutants, are forecast to be equally beneficial in financial terms.

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