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Clearing the Air

The Real Story of the War on Air Pollution

By Indur M. Goklany
About the Book

America’s air quality is better today than ever before in modern history and continues to steadily improve. How did this remarkable turnaround come about?

Basing his conclusions on a painstaking compilation of long‐​term empirical data on air quality and emissions data extending from the pre‐ federalization era to the present (some dating back a century), Goklany challenges the orthodoxy that credits federal regulation for improving air quality.

He shows that the air had been getting cleaner prior to—and probably would have continued to improve regardless of federalization. States and localities, after all, have always been engaged in a race to improve the quality of life, which means different things at different stages of economic development. Goklany’s empirical data refute once and for all the race‐​to‐​the‐​bottom rationale for centralized federal regulation.

Moreover, technological advances and consumer preferences continue to play important roles in improving air quality. Goklany accordingly offers a regulatory reform agenda that would improve upon the economic efficiency and environmental sensitivity of air quality regulation.

About the Author

Indur M. Goklany has held various positions in the federal government related to environmental issues. He was formerly chief of the technical assessment division of the National Commission on Air Quality and a consultant in the Office of Policy, Planning, and Evaluation at the EPA. He is also the author of The Precautionary Principle.

What Others Have Said

“By most measures the American environment is getting better, not worse. Clearing the Air explains improving air quality in terms that are informative, engaging, and optimistic. Read it and breathe deeply.”
—Gregg Easterbrook, The New Republic

“A timely and thought‐​provoking contribution…I found Goklany’s data to be not only eye‐​opening but also utterly plausible and convincing.”
—A. Denny Ellerman, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research, MIT