Medical and environmental scientists have known for decades that clean air is critical for health. Public health protections have been demonstrated to support a growing economy, fostering new and innovative industry practices, improving worker health and productivity, and spurring entrepreneurial efforts. Business leader and health/wellness advocate Sebastian Guthery understands that maintaining health regulations and improving the environment will continue to create opportunity.
Despite this clear understanding of the value of environmental and personal health regulations, the Trump Administration has been hard at work dismantling decades of such protections. Many of the regulatory rollbacks are targeted at Obama-era protections, such as regulations governing fossil fuel emissions, coal-burning power plants, and even environmental standards for passenger vehicles on U.S. roads.
Air Quality: A Public Health Epidemic
Health impacts due to harmful environmental emissions are staggering. A report by the American Lung Association indicated that about 40% of all Americans breathe dangerous levels of pollutants, mostly arising from coal-fired electrical power plants and vehicle emissions. Breathing high levels of unhealthy air can lead to a number of serious medical conditions, including asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) calls unhealthy air a public health epidemic. According to a study conducted by the CDC, approximately 25 million American citizens have asthma, representing about seven percent of all adults and over eight percent of all children. The numbers of asthma cases have increased dramatically since the 1980s; climate changes have contributed to these numbers. Another study suggests that asthma alone costs $82 billion per year in medical expenses and reduces workforce productivity, contributing billions more in costs.
Rollback after Rollback
Since its very first days, the Trump Administration has announced reductions or eliminations of vital emission regulation. One of the major regulatory rollbacks is that of emission and fuel efficiency standards for vehicles. Another is that of coal-fired power plants; under Trump’s command, the Environmental Protection Agency has relaxed air and water regulations designed to reduce harmful emissions from polluting the country’s skies and waterways. These are only a few of many regulatory rollbacks proposed by or implemented by the Trump Administration.
A Solution to Environmental Emissions?
As stated earlier, environmental regulations actually stimulate the economy. Guthery, and many other enterprising entrepreneurs, have created innovations that address harmful pollutants, contributing billions of dollars to a strengthening U.S. economy. Rather than controlling pollution with retrofitted scrubbers and particulate-capturing technologies, entrepreneurs are developing solutions that don’t pollute in the first place. A global shift toward electric or hybrid-electric vehicles is a great example of this. Power plants that harness wind and wave energy to produce electricity are another. Solar electricity generation and storage is the darling of entrepreneurial efforts around the world; this market sector is almost exclusively the brainchild of forward-thinking business leaders who identified an elegant, non-polluting solution, then developed the products and infrastructure needed to bring it to life. By keeping existing environmental regulations in place and creating more stringent energy-efficiency and emissions standards, business ventures can create new opportunities and jobs, reducing the costs associated with lost work days and medical expenses to treat respiratory conditions. This has the added effect of stimulating the economy while protecting the health of American citizens.