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Cleaning coal to cut acid rain.

Cleaning coal to cut acid rain

The Reagan administration has taken another step toward officially acknowledging that acid rain is a serious environmental problem that crosses national boundaries. In a report released last week, President Reagan's special envoy Drew L. Lewis, former transportation secretary, and William G. Davis, former premier of Ontario, recommend that the United States spend $5 billion over a five-year period to develop and apply new techniques for cleaning coal to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions.

"There should be no doubt that acidic air emissions are being transported through the atmosphere and over the U.S.-Canadian border,' Lewis says to Reagan in a letter accompanying the report. "[T]ransboundary air pollution is causing serious environmental concern in both countries because of the ecological, economic and cultural value of the resources at risk.'

The envoys argue that the development of cheaper yet highly efficient coal-cleaning methods would make it easier to formulate broad acid-rain control policies. Half of the funds for the proposed demonstration program would come from industry. However, whether the federal government can come up with its share during a period of automatic budget reductions isn't known. "Where are we going to get the money?' one official asked.

The report also drew complaints from environmental groups, including the Sierra Club. They were disappointed that it didn't set specific targets for reductions in sulfur dioxide emissions.

In contrast, electric utilities and the National Coal Association (NCA), based in Washington, D.C., endorsed the Lewis-Davis plan. Says NCA's Carl E. Bagge, "It is the only response that can be justified at this time, based on emission trends and continued scientific uncertainty.'
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Author:Peterson, Ivars
Publication:Science News
Date:Jan 18, 1986
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