Editorial urging acid rain action

ForestFair forestfair at aol.com
Wed Oct 4 22:22:13 EST 2000

This editorial appeared in today's Albany (NY) Times Union, following the
inexcusable delay in releasing a critical EPA acid rain study


First published: Wednesday, October 4, 2000 

Acid rain bottom line 
A new EPA study shows just how affordable it is to fight pollution

How much would it cost to keep Adirondack lakes from dying from acid 
rain? How much to spare thousands of Americans who suffer respiratory 
illnesses caused by the smokestack pollutants that contribute to acid 
rain? New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan put those questions to the 
Environmental Protection Agency two years ago, as he and Rep. Sherwood 
Boehlert, R-Utica, struggled to push through strict new federal limits 
on emissions of nitrogen and sulfur that drift from power plants in the 
Midwest and South and descend on the Northeast, causing health problems 
in populated areas and killings trees and aquatic life in the 
Adirondacks and other pristine regions. 

Now, after an unjustified delay by the Clinton administration that some 
critics are attributing to election-year politics, the EPA report is 
finally public, thanks to a subpoena issued by the House Government 
Reform Committee. And the price tag turns out to be so affordable that 
any further delay in reducing smokestack pollution is indefensible. The 
bottom line: $1. That is how little the average household monthly 
utility bill would rise if the Moynihan-Boehlert bill were law.

But time is running short. Congress has only a few days left to conclude 
its business this year, and there are no encouraging signs that 
lawmakers will give the Moynihan-Boehlert bill the prompt attention it 

But they should. The EPA report not only makes a convincing case for 
stricter pollution controls, but it also spells out the benefits that 
the nation -- not just the Northeast -- stands to reap in return. In a 
cost-benefit analysis sought by Mr. Moynihan, the EPA pegs the benefits 
of reducing acid rain at $60 billion, compared with $5 billion that 
power plants would have to pay to meet the tighter emissions standards. 
That's a $55 billion payback, as represented in savings on treating 
chronic bronchitis, reducing emergency room visits for asthma and 
eliminating 1.5 billion days of lost work each year because of 
respiratory illnesses. There would be scenic improvements as well as the 
atmosphere cleared over national treasures like the Adirondacks and the 
Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains national parks.

In the Adirondacks, the struggle is a life-and-death one. A recent Times 
Union series found that without sharp new curbs on acid rain, half of 
the Adirondack lakes will no longer be able to support aquatic life in 
40 years. Already it is too late to save some ponds and lakes that have 
been contaminated by nitrogen oxide. The pattern will continue unless 
prompt action is taken. As our series noted, state leaders and the New 
York congressional delegation have made a strong bipartisan effort to 
combat the problem. Now it is Congress' turn. No one state can stop acid 
rain on its own. But Congress can, and should, provide the necessary 
federal remedy. The EPA has just given 55 billion reasons to act now. 


More information about the Ag-forst mailing list