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Big dividends from pollution cleanup.

Big dividends from pollution cleanup

Annual U.S. expenditures on pollution abatement and controls rose from $18 billion in 1972 to almost $86 billion in 1988. But a new analysis of the economic impacts of that spending does "not lend support to the widely held belief that environmental programs generally hurt the economy by crippling industries and increasing unemployment," three economists report in the current AMBIO (Vol. 18, No. 5).

Businesses fund about 60 percent of U.S. pollution control and cleanup. About a quarter of their antipollution spending goes into capital investments for pollution abatement and control technologies, such as stack-gas scrubbers and clean coal technologies. And those investments appear to yield handsome returns, conclude Jonathan D. Jones of the Treasury Department and Roger H. Bezdek and Robert M. Wendling of Management Information Services, Inc., a Washington, D.C., consulting firm. Using computer models, they estimated how 1985 investments in particular pollution control technologies translated into sales for each of 80 individual industries. Then they calculated derivative effects of these investments throughout the economy -- such as increased sales by suppliers of parts and raw materials and increased transportation costs to haul those materials.

The group's findings suggest that industry's $8.5 billion investment in controlling air, water and solid-waste pollution in 1985 translated into corporate sales of $19 billion, profits of $2.6 billion and 167,000 new jobs. But benefits were distributed quite variably. Per dollar spent, investments in air pollution controls yielded the greatest sales and profits, while solid-waste disposal generated the most new jobs. Though these estimates do not account for the job and profit losses that some individual companies undoubtedly experienced, they also do not account for the social benefits of a cleaner, healthier environment, Bezdek says.
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Title Annotation:pollution control and prevention
Publication:Science News
Date:Sep 16, 1989
Words:292
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