Why Reducing Air Pollution is Good for the Economy

A main argument from the deregulation crowd these last four decades or so has been that environmental laws must be loosened to lessen the regulatory burden on business and industry.

But even accepting that premise for the sake of argument runs afoul of reality.

A spate of papers reveal myriad economic reasons to reduce air pollution, from improving infants’ health and lowering children’s health care costs (which should reduce long-term health care costs), to improving worker productivity.

Moreover, there’s an equity angle—lower-income or minority neighborhoods often have higher levels of pollution. That can be actionable, as Illinois’ Attorney General Lisa Madigan proved on November 5 by suing KCBX Terminals (which, the Chicago Tribune story notes, is controlled by Charles and David Koch) accusing the company of “repeatedly violating state law by allowing lung-damaging particulate matter to swirl off piles of petroleum coke and coal along the Calumet River.”

Residents in the working class, largely Latino and black neighborhoods near the piles say the pollution problems have gotten worse since the three storage terminals began acquiring more petcoke.

More information: berkeley.edu