Air quality in the U.S. is on the decline after seven consecutive years of improvement under President Barack Obama, according to The Independent.
The drop began in 2016, just prior to President Donald Trump taking office, and has continued in the years since, a study by economists from Carnegie Mellon University has shown.
Karen Clay and Nicholas Muller wrote that the “increase was associated with 9,700 premature deaths in 2018,” which also exacted a heavy economic toll of about $89 billion.
Particulate matter resulting from “burning of wildfires in parched areas of the country, and the destruction of American environmental protection rules” are to blame, the researchers stated in their report, which drew from Environmental Protection Agency data.
The increased use of trucks for transporting goods is a particular culprit, they said: “The chemical composition of particulates point to increased use of natural gas and to vehicle miles travelled as likely contributors to the increase [in air pollution]. We conclude that the effect is due to diesel vehicles as well as some industrial boilers.”
Clay and Muller also pointed to the Trump administration’s assault on the Clean Air Act, “which the Union of Concerned Scientists has previously credited with preventing hundreds of thousands of premature deaths across the US.”