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A Strong EPA Protects Our Health and Promotes Economic Growth

Posted by Content Coordinator on Monday, October 10th, 2011


Executive Summary

Since implementation of the Clean Air Act in the 1970s, followed by the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, Superfund, and other important environmental laws, America’s gross domestic product (GDP) has risen by 207 percent, and it remains the largest in the world. Complying with the nation’s public health and environmental protection laws has bolstered a $300 billion a year clean technology sector that employs an estimated 1.7 million people.

Our environmental laws provide major health and economic benefits. For example, the Clean Air Act’s annual benefits by 2020 are expected to prevent 230,000 premature deaths, 200,000 cases of heart attacks, 2.4 million cases of asthma attacks, 120,000 emergency room visits, and 5.4 million lost school days.

The economic benefits of the Clean Air Act will equal about $2 trillion per year by the year 2020 if we continue enforcing the Act.

As Chairman Barbara Boxer has often stated, “If you can’t breathe, you can’t work. If you need to take your child to the hospital or if the breadwinner of the family dies prematurely, a major financial burden is placed on the family and often on society.”

The same logic applies to preventing deaths and illnesses from polluted water and toxins.

The conclusion is clear: Our landmark environmental laws are critical to a stronger, healthier and more productive workforce – they are integral to our quality of life and support a strong economy. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) important role was clear at its creation and is just as vital today.

Important Industries Rely on Clean Water Act Protections

Clean water is important for a number of industries, including outdoor recreation, coastal tourism, commercial fishing, and construction.

  • In 2006, 87.5 million Americans – 29 percent of the U.S. population — enjoyed recreational activities relating to fish and wildlife, such as fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching. Expenditures by this group were $122.3 billion, or about 1 percent of the nation’s GDP.
  • Beach visitation and recreational fishing contribute from $16 billion to $56 billion per year to the U.S. economy.
  • The 10 billion pounds of total U.S. commercial fish landings in 2004 were worth over $3.8 billion, and a large share of these fish species are dependent on healthy and clean estuaries for at least some stage of their life.
  • The construction industry plays an important role in the development of the nation’s wastewater treatment infrastructure. According to a study by the Clean Water Council, $1 billion in water infrastructure investment creates up to 26,669 jobs.

Benefits of the Safe Drinking Water Act Include Job Creation and Economic Growth

  • According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, every dollar invested in drinking water and waste water infrastructure increases the Gross Domestic Output by $6.35 over the long term – a 6 to 1 return on the investment.
  • Each dollar of economic output in the water and wastewater industry also increases the economic output of other industries by $2.62.103 By creating one job in the water and wastewater industry, at least three other jobs are needed in the economy to support that work in the water and wastewater industry.

Download full version (PDF): A Strong EPA Protects Our Health and Promotes Economic Growth

About the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
“In addition to ensuring our families have safe and healthy communities to live in, the Environment and Public Works Committee’s jurisdiction includes responsibility for addressing climate change, one of the greatest environmental challenges facing our nation today.

The Committee also has responsibility for legislation related to America’s critical transportation systems, flood protection, drinking water and wastewater systems, and the other public infrastructure that provides the foundation for our quality of life and keeps our nation’s economy moving. “

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