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President Trump Delivering on Promise to Protect Our Nation’s Air

Criteria air pollutant emissions dropped 7 percent since 2017

06/02/2020
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

Grand Rapids, Mich. (June 2, 2020) — Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler delivered remarks at the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce with U.S. Congressman Fred Upton (MI-06), where he highlighted the continued improvements in America’s air quality during the Trump Administration.

“Americans are breathing the cleanest air since 1970. Criteria air pollutant emissions under President Trump dropped 7 percent since 2017,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This clean air progress proves that when EPA focuses on its core mission and works collaboratively with states, we can achieve world-leading emissions reductions to the benefit of our nation, its citizens, and the environment.”

“Thanks to innovation and a commitment to an all-of-the-above approach, we are cleaning up pollutants in the air and making it safer for folks across the nation. That’s something we should be proud of. Cleaning up the air we breathe and keeping it safe for our families and children should remain a priority for all levels of government,” said U.S. Congressman Upton.

From 2017 to 2019, the combined emissions of criteria and precursor pollutants dropped 7 percent.

In the past three years under President Trump, we saw the following drops in emissions of criteria and precursor pollutants: 

  • Nitrogen oxide ↓ 14 percent
  • PM 2.5 ↓ 4 percent
  • PM10 ↓ 2 percent
  • Sulfur dioxide ↓ 35 percent
  • Carbon monoxide ↓ 8 percent
  • Volatile Organic Compounds ↓ 5 percent

As a result of these falling emissions under President Trump, in 2019 we saw a significant improvement in air quality. From 2018 – 2019, the number of days listed as unhealthy for sensitive groups dropped by 40 percent as the amount of criteria pollutants in our air continued to fall:

  • Lead (3-month average) ↓ 20 percent 
  • Fine particulates (24-hour) ↓ 19 percent
  • Large particulates (24-hour) ↓ 17 percent
  • Carbon monoxide ↓ 10 percent
  • Ozone ↓ 6 percent
  • Sulfur dioxide ↓ 6 percent 
  • Nitrogen dioxide (annual) ↓ 4 percent

Overall, between 1970 and 2019, the combined emissions of criteria and precursor pollutants dropped by 77 percent, while the U.S. economy grew 285 percent.

“For many years, EPA has been working closely with our state and local partners to improve air quality in communities throughout Michigan and the Great Lakes region,” said Regional Administrator Kurt Thiede. “Thanks to these sustained efforts, people are breathing cleaner, healthier air and EPA remains committed to keeping up that momentum.”

In addition to Congressman Upton, Rick Baker, Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce President & CEO, and John Walsh, Michigan Manufacturers Association President & CEO, delivered remarks.

“It was not by accident that Grand Rapids has been named ‘America’s Greenest City’ by Fast Company and America’s most sustainable mid-sized city by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” said Rick Baker, President & CEO of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. “Our business community's early leadership and commitment to sustainable business practices has been a beacon for others. It is a key part of our business community's culture. We know responsible environmental practices make for good business. It is exciting to see the work of our members, and by leaders in industry across the country, making a difference now and for future generations.”

“We want to thank Administrator Wheeler for recognizing the success of manufacturers in reducing emissions and improving Michigan's air quality,” said John Walsh, President & CEO of the Michigan Manufacturers Association. “The perception significantly lags behind the reality of manufacturing's achievements in environmental stewardship. Our members are committed to a clean environment as well as a thriving economy and believe that these are intrinsically connected, not mutually exclusive goals.”