Did you know that the United States leads the world in clean air?
As I walk in the hall of the Capitol, meet with congressmen and their employees about the energy policy that helps and hurts the future of our country, shocked how many people do not know and cannot believe this fact.
Over the past 50 years, harmful air pollution known as particles has fallen. Toxic pollutants such as lead, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide are now almost non-existent in our air. Ozone is down dramatically. We are the only heavily populated nation in the world to meet World Health Organization standards for particles and by a long shot. In fact, our standards are among the strictest in the world.
These radical air quality gains occurred while our population, energy consumption, vehicle kilometers traveled and gross domestic product also grew dramatically.
Often, our ongoing and increasingly imprisoned national conversation on the environment lacks the fact that reliable, affordable energy is the key driver of innovation.
Countries like Germany have tried to force their way to environmental management by imposing a switch to wind and solar energy before markets and technology were ready. This led to 46% higher electricity costs, massive subsidies to keep coal plants in operation for backup power and dependence on imported wood from the United States for cooking and heating fuel ̵
Meanwhile, free from the burden of strict and sweltering rules, the Americans have done what we have always done best: rolled up the sleeves and came to work.
Take the catalyst that turns toxic exhaust into harmless gases as water vapor by catalyzing a chemical reaction. It was perfected for use in petrol engines in the 1950s by Eugene Houdry, a French scientist who became a US citizen in 1942, and became popularized in the 1970s as an effective way to meet the Clean Air Act standards.
According to the EPA, which calls the catalyst "one of the greatest environmental inventions of all time", modern cars, SUVs, trucks and buses are 98-99% cleaner now than 50 years ago. Flue gas pollutants are almost eliminated, which means that our cities are no longer suffocated by smog. We are free to take advantage of the independence, mobility, and economic opportunities offered by passenger cars without sacrificing environmental quality.
It's good old American ingenuity at work. It continues to work today in technologies such as baghouse dust collectors that remove contamination from commercial plants and renewable natural gas production from methane trapped from landfills or wastewater treatment plants. The unlimited potential for free market and innovation, not public mandates and taxes, has driven both our economy and the environment to dramatic success.
All this is possible by accessing ample, reliable and affordable energy. Our energy resources have the power to improve our quality of life, strengthen our economies and lift people out of poverty both at home and abroad, all while improving the environment. Nothing is more powerful to drive man thriving than energy.
Today, much of America's air pollution is not our own production. It is blown into the west coast from Asia. Strict air quality regulations will do much more to export jobs out of the US than they want to get our air to breathe.
On the other hand, the more our energy and manufacturing sectors flourish, the more we can export to our friends and allies worldwide – meaning the more we can export our environmental quality.
This Earth Day, we will celebrate our country's radical achievements by embracing our abundant energy resources and allowing the free market to drive more environmental and economic progress in future generations.
Jason Isaac is senior leader and prominent guy of Life: Powered, a project of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He has previously earned four words in the Texas House of Representatives .