Earth Day Information Center: Environmental Progress

Air Quality:  Between 1993 and 2002, aggregate emissions of the six principle pollutants (nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and lead) decreased 19 percent.1

Volatile organic compound emissions from cars and trucks have fallen 73.8 percent since 1970.  Carbon monoxide emissions from cars have been reduced 64 percent.2

Ozone Layer: According to the United Nations, the ozone layer is expected to slowly recover over the next 50 years as a result of the elimination of ozone-depleting chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons.3

Acid Rain: Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions – the main pollutants in the formation of acid rain – have been markedly reduced. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Acid Rain Program has resulted in a 38 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions in the electric power industry from 1980 levels.4  Nitrogen oxide emissions for the entire power industry in 2003 were 37 percent below 1990 levels.5

Wetlands: The United States is gaining wetlands, not losing them.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, net wetland acreage grew at a rate of 26,000 acres per year between 1997 and 2001, and in 2002 and 2003, net wetland gains averaged 72,000 acres per year.6

Oil Drilling Techniques: In 1999, President Clinton’s Department of Energy confirmed that current technology allows oil exploration in ANWR to be done in an environmentally-friendly manner.  Ice-based roads, bridges, drilling pads and airstrips have become the standard for drilling in the Alaskan North Slope.  Such structures leave virtually no marks on the tundra as the ice simply melts away in the spring.7  Modern directional drilling techniques also would minimize the impact on ANWR’s surface.8

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