EPA Acid Rain Report Released -- Finally!

ForestFair forestfair at aol.com
Wed Oct 4 22:15:22 EST 2000

>From the Albany (NY) Times Union, October 3, 2000

EPA report touts acid rain controls 

Study says proposed measure would help reduce emissions and save 
thousands of lives and billions of dollars

WASHINGTON -- Legislation curbing acid rain emissions would save 10,000 
lives annually while increasing the average household utility bill by 
just $1 per month, according to a Clinton administration report released 

The report by the Environmental Protection Agency analyzes a bill 
sponsored by Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Rep. Sherwood 
Boehlert, R-New Hartford, that would sharply reduce nitrogen oxide and 
sulfur dioxide emissions. It tallies annual health benefits beginning in 
2010 at $60 billion. The costs of reining in the emissions are $5 
billion, for a net benefit of $55 billion, the report found.

Opponents of the Moynihan-Boehlert bill said they had not seen the study 
and could not comment on its findings. But in the past they have 
questioned whether pollution in the Midwest is responsible for smog in 
the heavily populated Northeast.

"This isn't just ammunition for our bill, it's a whole arsenal,'' 
Boehlert said Monday.

"It shows the rest of the country how inexpensive it will be to fix the 
problem and gives the Midwest a real reason to want to go along,'' 
Adirondack Council spokesman John Sheehan said.

The northeastern states say much of the nitrogen and sulfur pollution 
originates in the Midwest. Smog from coal-burning plants in the region 
is carried east on prevailing winds. Acid rain is formed when nitrogen 
and sulfur in smog mix with airborne moisture and fall as rain or snow.

New York's Adirondack Mountains have been hit particularly hard.

This summer, a Times Union series, "Troubled Waters: The threat to 
Adirondacks lakes,'' detailed the damage caused by acid rain and 
reported that unless conditions change -- mainly by cutting air 
pollution from power plants hundreds of miles south and west of the 
region -- half of the mountains' lakes will be dead in 40 years.

A recent report from the U.S. General Accounting Office found that 
mountain soil in the Adirondack State Park isn't absorbing nitrogen 
oxide, so it is flowing directly into waterways and ponds and causing 
them to die.

While much of the attention on acid rain has focused on the Northeast, 
the report paints the problem as a national one. It finds, for instance, 
that $6.4 billion in benefits would be felt in western states.

The Moynihan-Boehlert bill would cut nitrogen oxide emissions by 70 
percent above the levels mandated in the 1990 Clean Air Act and sulfur 
dioxide emissions by 50 percent.

Moynihan first requested the cost-benefit analysis in 1998. The study 
was completed in March and forwarded to the Office of Management and 
Budget for review.

Last week, the House Government Reform Committee at the urging of Rep. 
John McHugh, R-Jefferson County, issued a subpoena to obtain the report.

Boehlert blames an administration delay with making it all but 
impossible to get the bill passed in the handful of days Congress has 
left before adjourning this year. New York lawmakers have written a 
flurry of letters in recent weeks asking for the report that were 
ignored, he said.

But EPA Assistant Administrator Bob Perciasepe wrote in a letter to 
House Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Dan Burton that he was 
"surprised and disappointed'' that the committee had resorted to a 

There has been speculation the administration was hesitant to release a 
report essentially advocating an increase in energy costs in a 
presidential election season when soaring energy costs are already much 
in the news. The EPA has denied politics were involved.

The report also says passage of the bill would produce 2,000 fewer 
asthma emergency room visits annually, prevent 5,000 new cases of 
chronic bronchitis and eliminate 1.5 million days of lost work. It would 
also add $1.2 billion in visibility improvements in scenic national 
parks, notably the Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains national parks. 

By SHANNON McCAFFREY, Associated Press 
First published: Tuesday, October 3, 2000 

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