Earth Day 2009 Fact Sheet

Environmental Progress

 

Air Quality: 

The air we breathe is cleaner: 

• Between 1970 and 2005, total emissions of the six principal air pollutants in the United States (nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and lead) tracked by the Environmental Protection Agency declined by 53 percent.  During this time, the U.S. gross domestic product increased 195 percent, vehicle miles traveled increased 178 percent, energy consumption increased 48 percent and the U.S. population increased 42 percent.   

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "Air Emissions Trends - Continued Progress Through 2005."

From 1987-2007, average levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air has dropped 31 percent, of sulfur dioxide, 61 percent, and carbon monoxide, 70 percent.

Source: Air Quality in America: A Dose of Reality on Air Pollution Levels, Trends, and Health Risks by Joel M. Schwartz and Steven F. Hayward, The AEI Press, the American Enterprise Institute, 2007.

• Carbin monoxide emissions, other than those from wildfires and prescribed burning, decreased 38 percent between 1990 and 2006.

Source: Environmental Protection Agency, "Latest Findings on National Air Quality - Status and Trends through 2006," available at http://www.epa.gov/air/airtrends/2007/ or http://www.epa.gov/air/airtrends/2007/report/carbonmonoxide.pdf
.

• Levels of ground level ozone decreased by 9 percent between 1990 and 2006 (most of the decrease occurred since 2002).  The greatest improvement was made in southern California, which had the highest ground level ozone level in 1990.

Source: Environmental Protection Agency, "Latest Findings on National Air Quality - Status and Trends through 2006," available at http://www.epa.gov/air/airtrends/2007/ or http://www.epa.gov/air/airtrends/2007/report/groundlevelozone.pdf.

80 percent of ozone monitoring locations were in violation of the EPA's "8-hour" ozone standard in the late 1970s; by 2007, this number had dropped to 15 percent.  The less stringent "1-hour" standard was met by 94 percent of U.S. monitoring locations by 2006,  This is in comparison to a 20 percent achievement rate in the late 1970s.

Source: Air Quality in America: A Dose of Reality on Air Pollution Levels, Trends, and Health Risks by Joel M. Schwartz and Steven F. Hayward, The AEI Press, the American Enterprise Institute, 2007.

• Annual fine particle pollution (PM2.5) concentrations decreased by 14 percent between 2000 and 2006.  Daily fine particle pollution (PM2.5) concentrations decreased by 15 percent.  The first year the national monitoring network for PM2.5 was fully implemented was 2000.

Source: Environmental Protection Agency, "Latest Findings on National Air Quality - Status and Trends through 2006," available at http://www.epa.gov/air/airtrends/2007/ or http://www.epa.gov/airtrends/pm.html.

• The percentage of children who live in counties that fail to meet the air quality standard for fine particulate matter declined from 24 percent to 16 percent from 1999 to 2004.

Source: Environmental Protection Agency, "New Data Show Decline in Children's Exposure to Pollutants," October 24, 2006, available at http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/Press%20Releases%20issued%20by%20OEI.

• Lead concentrations in the air declined by 96 percent from 1980 - 2006, and by 54% from 1990 - 2006.

Source: Environmental Protection Agency, "Latest Findings on National Air Quality - Status and Trends through 2006," available at http://www.epa.gov/air/airtrends/2007/ or http://www.epa.gov/airtrends/lead.html.

• Nitrogen dioxide concentrations in the air declined by 41 percent from 1980 - 2006, and by 30 percent from 1990 - 2006.

Source: Environmental Protection Agency, "Latest Findings on National Air Quality - Status and Trends through 2006," available at http://www.epa.gov/air/airtrends/2007/ or http://www.epa.gov/airtrends/nitrogen.html.

• Sulfur dioxide concentrations in the air declined by 66 percent from 1980 - 2006, and by 53 percent from 1990 - 2006.

Source: Environmental Protection Agency, "Latest Findings on National Air Quality - Status and Trends through 2006," available at http://www.epa.gov/air/airtrends/2007/ or http://www.epa.gov/airtrends/sulfur.html.


Forests: The U.S. is gaining forestland.  The United States averaged an annual gain in net forest area of 159,000 hectares per year between 2000 and 2005.  The U.S. is the fourth leading nation in the world with respect to annual net gain in forest area.  Globally, the annual net loss of forests has decreased from an average of 8.9 million hectares per year during the time period of 1990-2000 to 7.3 million hectares per year between 2000 and 2005.

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, "Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005," p. 13 and p. 21, available at http://www.fao.org/docrep/008/a0400e/a0400e00.htm.


Soil Erosion: Soil erosion rates are falling.  Estimated soil erosion rates in the U.S. decreased by 43 percent between 1982 and 2003.  In 2003, 72 percent of all cropland was eroding at or below what the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service considers a tolerable level, compared to only 60 percent of cropland meeting this standard in 1982.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, "Natural Resources Inventory 2003 Annual NRI," available at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Technical/land/nri03/nri03eros-mrb.html.


Wetlands: The U.S. is gaining wetlands.  Between 1998 and 2004, the U.S. experienced a net gain of 191,750 acres of wetlands, which is equal to an average net gain of 32,000 acres of wetlands per year.  By comparison, in the 1970s, the U.S. lost an estimated 290,000 acres of wetlands per year.  There are an estimated 107.7 million acres of wetlands in the conterminous United States.

Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, "Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Conterminous United States 1998 to 2004," p. 15, available at http://wetlandsfws.er.usgs.gov/status_trends/national_reports/trends_2005_report.pdf; testimony of Benjamin H. Grumbles, Assistant Administrator for Water, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, United States House of Representatives, October 18, 2007, available at   http://www.epa.gov/water/speeches/10-18-07_CWA_Celebration.html,




 

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