Taking the Sting Out of Acid Rain

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Science  12 Nov 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6006, pp. 910-911
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6006.910

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As many prepare to toast the success of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, the U.S. acid rain program is facing turmoil and uncertainty. Its once high-flying emissions-trading market has collapsed in the wake of a complex court ruling, legislative gridlock—and its own success. Industry analysts say the collapse could create a perverse incentive for utilities to ease up, at least temporarily, on cutting emissions while the government works on new rules. Researchers, meanwhile, warn that the problem isn't going away. Acid deposition continues to threaten many sensitive ecosystems, and analysts say deeper emissions cuts are needed to prevent future pollution from undoing the gains of the past 20 years.

* David Malakoff is a writer in Alexandria, Virginia.