State of the Environment: Pangloss Edition

I know that despair is always more fashionable than optimism, but it is sometimes useful to remember that not everything is going to hell in a hand basket. Yesterday, EPA issued a press release announcing publication of its latest report on trends in air quality. The report, titled “Our Nation’s Air: Status and Trends Through 2008”, makes clear that, overall, air quality has gotten significantly better, particularly since 1990.

What I find most notable is that reductions in NOx largely occurred after 2002, whereas reductions in other pollutants, such as PM and SO2, have occurred since 1990. Notice anything about these dates? After 1990, the acid rain trading program came into effect. With respect to NOx, the report itself acknowledges that the improvements resulted from implementation of the NOx SIP call and EPA’s NOx Budget Trading Program.

What do you know? Trading programs work. Anyone in Congress pondering climate legislation paying attention?


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