To the editor: President Trump recently said, “From Day One, my administration has made it a top priority to ensure that America has among the very cleanest air and cleanest water on the planet.” It is preposterous for him to make this claim.
In fact, the U.S. ranks at a dismal 27th overall and 22nd in Europe and North America, according to the 2018 Environmental Performance Index. Similarly, on the emissions front, the modest year-to-year declines in emissions from previous years are starting to reverse.
If one digs deeper in the Environmental Performance Index, the air quality performance of a country is determined, in part, by the exposure and exceedance levels of particulate matter (PM2.5). Recent research and advances in hyper-local air quality measurement show that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s official estimates of PM2.5 levels do not always reflect more granular, localized measurements, thus underestimating air pollution levels.
As part of a research team investigating these differences, I would err on the side of caution and refrain from making claims that are easily refutable through advances in technology.
Jalal Awan, Santa Monica
The writer is a doctoral fellow at the Pardee Rand Graduate School. The views expressed are his own.