Last month, the EPA released a new report entitled “Our Nation’s Air 2017,” which analyzes the changes in our nation’s air quality and compares those changes to those in our economy. The report’s findings were encouraging as we work to strengthen North Carolina’s economic competiveness, while supporting commonsense safeguards for a healthy natural environment. As indicated within the report, our nation’s air is becoming cleaner and our economy is growing.
Since 1970, pollutant concentrations have largely decreased, while our GDP, vehicle miles traveled, population and energy consumption have all increased. While aggregate emissions of the six common pollutants decreased by 73%, GDP increased by 253%, miles traveled increased by 190%, the population increased by 58% and energy consumption increased by 44%. Additional data in the report shows that concentrations of hazardous air pollutants dropped significantly since 1990. Specifically, carbon monoxide levels fell by 77%, lead levels fell by 99%, nitrogen dioxide levels fell by 56% and sulfur dioxide levels fell by 85%. These numbers clearly illustrate our nation’s ability to advance environmental improvement and economic growth simultaneously.
As an energy leader, North Carolina has made significant investments in clean burning fossil fuels and continues to explore opportunities to employ every available energy source. At the same time, our state has become one of the fastest growing in the nation, admired for its status as one of the best states in the country to live and work. It’s important to note that those are not mutually exclusive, as made clear by the EPA’s report. Pursuing a comprehensive and environmentally responsible energy strategy is critical in order to power North Carolina’s competitive economy now and into the future. If you’d like to hear more about the impact energy and environmental issues have on North Carolina’s economy, I encourage you to register for our 2017 Energy & Environmental Management Conference. At the conference, you’ll have the opportunity to hear from the experts on the state’s air quality, energy exploration, reform efforts and more. While we have made great progress thus far, it is imperative that we continue to execute an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy to further North Carolina’s competitive economy.
Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber