A federal program to reduce pollutants that cause acid rain has improved ecosystem and human health, according to a new report to Congress by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

The nation’s Acid Rain Program, created in the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, has successfully reduced emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides beyond the law’s original goals. Sulfur dioxide emissions in 2009 were 36 percent lower than the statutory cap. Nitrogen oxide emissions were cut by 67 percent between 1995 and 2009. Emission reductions from power plants were achieved by a market-based cap-and-trade program.

In addition to being successful at reducing pollution, the program has been cost efficient. At roughly $3 billion a year, the program is “a fraction of initial estimates,” according to OSTP. The benefits to human health alone amount to $170 to $430 billion per year.

Despite the Acid Rain Program’s ability to reduce emissions, ecological recovery of some sensitive areas is not likely without further declines in pollution. Regulations to address transport of ozone and fine particles, and other rules affecting mobile sources of pollution are needed for ecological recovery in acid-sensitive areas.

Read the report at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/2011napap508.pdf.


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