Monday, October 16, 2006

Acid Rain Program 2005 Progress Report

Oct 16: U.S. EPA released its Acid Rain Program 2005 Progress Report, which the Agency said marks the 11th year of "one of the most widely regarded and successful environmental programs in U.S. history." Since 1995, the program has significantly reduced acid deposition in the United States by decreasing sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions. EPA said that due to rigorous emissions monitoring and allowance tracking, overall compliance with the Acid Rain Program has been consistently high – nearly 100 percent. There were no units out of compliance in 2005. In 2005, SO2 emissions from electric power generation were more than 5.5 million tons below 1990 levels. NOx emissions were down by about 3 million tons below 1990 levels. The program's emission cuts have reduced acid deposition and improved water quality in U.S. lakes and streams. The report summarizes human health and environmental improvements due to the program and includes sections on compliance strategies, surface water quality monitoring, environmental justice, and EPA's framework for accountability.

The emission reductions to date also have resulted in reduced formation of fine particles, improved air quality, and human health related benefits. A 2005 analysis in the Journal of Environmental Management estimated the value of the program's human health and environmental benefits in the year 2010 to be $122 billion annually (2000$). Most of these benefits result from the prevention of air quality-related health impacts, such as premature deaths and workdays missed due to illness, but they also include improved visibility in parks and other recreational and ecosystem improvements. EPA said that the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), issued in March 2005, will build upon the Acid Rain Program to further reduce SO2 and NOx emissions. CAIR achieves large reductions of SO2 and NOx emissions across 28 eastern states and the District of Columbia. When fully implemented, CAIR will reduce SO2 emissions in these states by more than 70 percent and NOx emissions by more than 60 percent from 2003 levels.

Access an EPA release (click here). Access links to the complete 32-page report and appendices (click here). Access EPA's Clean Air Markets Program website for information on the Acid Rain "Cap and Trade" and related programs (click here). [*Air]