TRUMP: "You look at our air and our water and it's right now at a record clean." — interview Tuesday with The Washington Post.

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President Donald Trump listens to China's President Xi Jinping speak during their bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

THE FACTS: No, the air isn't the cleanest ever. The air generally has been getting cleaner since the 1970s, but the downward trend in pollution has made a bit of a U-turn since Trump took office.

His Environmental Protection Agency released data that showed traditional air pollution — soot and smog — increased in 2017 and that the air is not the cleanest it has ever been.

The days with an unhealthy number of small pollution particles, often called soot and linked to heart and lung problems and deaths, jumped from 2016 to 2017 in 35 major metropolitan areas. In 2017, there were 179 unhealthy soot days, up 85 percent from 97 in 2016. Last year had the most unhealthy soot days since 2011.

The number of days with unhealthy smog levels was down from 2016, but higher than 2015, 2014 and 2013.

The number of days when the air quality index was unhealthy was 729 in 2017. The number of days is higher than a year because it counts each city's unhealthy reading on a certain day as one and there are numerous cities involved.

Last year's level was the highest since 2012 and a 21 percent increase over the cleanest air in 2014.


TRUMP: "I mean, we take thousands of tons of garbage off our beaches all the time that comes over from Asia. It just flows right down the Pacific, it flows, and we say where does this come from?" — Post interview.

THE FACTS: Singling out Asia for America's dirty Pacific beaches is an evasion.

Pacific currents do bring some trash from Asia, most noticeably during the 2011 tsunami, but it is rare that scientists can trace trash to a specific geographic location, said oceanographer Kara Lavender Law at the Sea Education Association, who said Trump's "statement is not supported by the data."

Americans dirty their own coastlines because "we produce double more trash per person than most of the people living in Southeast Asia," said Jenna Jambeck, a University of Georgia environmental engineering expert who studies marine debris.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, on Trump rejecting a dire White House report's conclusion on the economic costs of climate change: "This report is based on the most extreme modeled scenario, which contradicts long-established trends. ...This is the most extreme version and it's not based on facts." — press briefing Tuesday.

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders talks to reporters during the daily press briefing in the Brady press briefing room at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

THE FACTS: She's wrong. The 29-chapter report actually lays out various scenarios that the United Nations' climate assessments use. Economists say the cost estimates are credible and may even understate the economic impact.

The National Climate Assessment report considers three scenarios in estimating future costs. One is the business-as-usual scenario, which scientists say is closest to the current situation. That is the worst case of the three scenarios. Another would envision modest reductions in heat-trapping gases, and the third would involve severe cuts in carbon dioxide pollution.

For example, under the business-as-usual scenario in which emissions of heat-trapping gasses continue at current levels, labor costs in outdoor industries during heat waves could cost $155 billion in lost wages per year by 2090. Modest reductions in carbon pollution would cut that to $75 billion a year, the report said.

The report talks of hundreds of billions of dollars in economic losses in several spots. In one graphic, it shows the worst-case business-as-usual scenario of economic costs reaching 10 percent of gross domestic product when Earth is about a dozen degrees warmer than now with no specific date.

Economist Ray Kopp, a vice president at the think tank Resources For the Future and who wasn't part of the assessment, said the economics and the science in the report were sound.

Yale economist William Nordhaus, who won the 2018 Nobel prize for economics for his work on climate change, told The Associated Press that his calculations show climate change would cost the United States an even higher $4 trillion a year at the end of the century with a reasonable projection of warming. He said the White House report's economic conclusions used standard economic modeling.

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