Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful for Acid Rain


This Thanksgiving Day, just before the US Senate's Health Care Reform debate and the upcoming Copenhagen Summit on Global Warming, I wondered what happened to acid rain? For those old enough to remember the panic 1970's, acid rain was changing the composition of our lakes and threatening to destroy the forests of the entire world. The United States was one of the main culprits in SO2 emissions, the main chemical in producing acid rain from coal burning power plants.

In 1980 the U.S. enacted a study of acid rain which produced amendments in 1990 to the Clean Air Act requiring gaseous reductions and established a cap and trade system designed to reduce emissions in a series of phases by 10 million tons by the year 2010.

Overall, the Program's cap and trade program has been successful in achieving its goals. Since the 1990s, SO2 emissions have dropped 40%, and acid rain levels have dropped 65% since 1976. In 2007, total SO2 emissions were 8.9 million tons, achieving the program's long term goal ahead of the 2010 statutory deadline.

The EPA estimates that by 2010, the overall costs of complying with the program for businesses and consumers will be $1 billion to $2 billion a year, only one fourth of what was originally predicted.

What does acid rain have to do with Thanksgiving Day, you may ask? I guess it is to be thankful that there are some people in government with the capacity for the social good and the courage to do the right thing, may they not rest in peace.

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