This week the EPA unveiled a new set of fuel standards intended to reduce the harmful particulate matter coming out of American tailpipes. The measures require reducing gasoline’s sulfur content more than 60 percent by 2025.What’s especially interesting here is that the motivation for these new standards is controlling health care costs. The aim is to reduce the respiratory and cardiovascular diseases air pollution causes. Reuters reports:
“By reducing these pollutants and making our air healthier, we will bring relief to those suffering from asthma, other lung diseases and cardiovascular disease, and to the nation as a whole,” said Dr. Albert Rizzo, former chairman of the American Lung Association.Once fully in place, the standards will help avoid up to 2,000 premature deaths per year and 50,000 cases of respiratory ailments in children while adding only an average of 1 cent per gallon to the cost of gasoline, the agency estimated.
Industry groups are up in arms over the costs these standards are expected to add to cars—somewhere in the range of $75 per vehicle by 2025. The EPA insists this will be money well spent, estimating it will provide $13 in health savings for every dollar of cost.While the two sides argue over whether these numbers are likely to add up, everyone can agree that cleaner air is a good thing. Traffic pollution has been identified as a potential contributor to 14 percent of child asthma cases, making it about as bad in that regard as second hand smoke. Worse, researchers have found a correlation between growing up near well-traveled roadways and higher incidents of certain rare cancers.But we think there’s an even better way of addressing these health concerns: promoting telework. The average American spends nearly an hour commuting to and from work, but for many this chore is as unnecessary as it is stressful and onerous. Plenty of jobs can be done remotely, even if it’s only one or two days a week. That means cleaner skies and healthier people.