U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donohue highlighted the significant role business has played in cleaning the environment and stressed that continued economic growth is critical to environmental protection, in a national Earth Day address to Ohio business leaders.
"The business community has taken the lead on environmental cleanup since the 1970s, spending $1.6 trillion to improve and protect the nation''s air, land and water," said Donohue, in a City Club of Cleveland speech. "The signs of progress are all around us as business prepares to spend another $1.5 trillion on environmental improvements in the next decade."
Air pollutants decreased by more than half between 1976 and 1997, according to EPA, and between 1988 and 1997 the number of unhealthy air-quality days declined by two-thirds in major cities across the country.
"Our air and water are cleaner today than on any previous Earth Day, thanks to technological innovations and tremendous gains in efficiency achieved by business, in partnership with government and nonprofits," said Donohue. "If we continue to expand trade and limit excessive regulation, then business will continue to invest in cleaner technologies and create the wealth needed to improve the environment."
Donohue noted that American businesses are producing a greater volume of products using less energy than ever before and moving cleaner cars onto the nation''s highways, resulting in fewer air pollutants.
With expected technological and efficiency improvements, in the next 20 years business will reduce its rate of carbon dioxide emissions by about 30 percent per unit of GDP, according to the chamber.
"We need to start thinking about environmental problems in a broader way," concluded Donohue. "Future environmental challenges will strike at the heart of our quality of life -- feeding and fueling the world, restoring our abandoned lands and reducing congestion and pollution on our nation''s highways -- these are challenges that the business community plans to tackle head on in the coming years."
by Virginia Sutcliffe