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Acid Rain Controls

Ray D. Gardner, Environmental Law: An Update for the Busy Natural Resources Practitioner (1990)

The debate regarding acid rain controls has not been limited to the traditional environmentalist versus industry views. The acid rain issue has created regional conflicts and divisions within the natural resource and electric utility industries. The western states and other relatively low sulfur producing areas are reluctant to share the cost of reducing high sulfur emissions in regions such as the midwestern states. The interests of coal companies with relatively high sulfur reserves are divergent from low sulfur producers. The natural gas industry could benefit greatly from stringent statutory controls on emissions of sulfur dioxides and nitrogen oxides. Utilities that have been burning compliance coal or have installed pollution control devices will be affected differently than utilities that have not previously made efforts to mitigate sulfur emissions. Liberal loyalties are divided between the environmental community and labor unions concerned about the loss of jobs resulting from acid rain legislation.

Proponents of more stringent acid rain controls are currently engaged in a coordinated effort to obtain massive reductions in sulfur and nitrogen emissions through the legislative process. During the last decade, acid rain legislation was delayed pending the completion of a ten year study of the problem authorized by Congress in 1980.3 During the interim, environme