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Friday, December 09, 2016

Paul Krugman: Trump and Pruitt Will Make America Gasp Again

 "Think about what America was like in 1970, the year the E.P.A. was founded":

Trump and Pruitt Will Make America Gasp Again, by Paul Krugman, NY Times: Many people voted for Donald Trump because they believed his promises that he would restore what they imagine were the good old days — the days when America had lots of traditional jobs mining coal and producing manufactured goods. They’re going to be deeply disappointed...
But in other ways Mr. Trump can indeed restore the world of the 1970s. He can, for example, bring us back to the days when, all too often, the air wasn’t safe to breathe. And he’s made a good start by selecting Scott Pruitt, a harsh foe of pollution regulation, to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Make America gasp again!
Much of the commentary on the Pruitt appointment has focused on his denial of climate science and on the high likelihood that the incoming administration will undo the substantial progress President Obama was beginning to make against climate change. And that is, in the long run, the big story...
But climate change is a slow-building, largely invisible threat, hard to explain or demonstrate to the general public — which is one reason lavishly funded climate deniers have been so successful at obfuscating the issue. So it’s worth pointing out that most environmental regulation involves much more obvious, immediate, sometimes deadly threats. And much of that regulation may well be headed for oblivion.
Think about what America was like in 1970, the year the E.P.A. was founded. ... It was ... a very polluted country. Choking smog was quite common in major cities...
It’s far better now — not perfect, but much better. ...  And the improvement in air quality has had clear, measurable benefits. ...
The key point is that better air didn’t happen by accident: It was a direct result of regulation — regulation that was bitterly opposed at every step by special interests that attacked the scientific evidence of harm from pollution, meanwhile insisting that limiting their emissions would kill jobs.
These special interests were, as you might guess, wrong about everything. ...
But don’t expect rational arguments to ... sway the people who will soon be running the government. After all, what’s bad for America can still be good for the likes of the Koch brothers. ...
The good news, sort of, is that some of the nasty environmental consequences of Trumpism will probably be visible — literally — quite soon. And when bad air days make a comeback, we’ll know exactly whom to blame.

    Posted by on Friday, December 9, 2016 at 09:30 AM in Economics, Environment, Regulation | Permalink  Comments (99)


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