In DepthATMOSPHERIC CHEMISTRY

Nitrogen crisis threatens Dutch environment—and economy

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Science  06 Dec 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6470, pp. 1180-1181
DOI: 10.1126/science.366.6470.1180

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Summary

The Netherlands is in crisis over nitrogen pollution that has put into jeopardy €14 billion worth of construction projects, including homes, roads, and airport runways. A Dutch high court in May suspended permits for construction projects that pollute the atmosphere with nitrogen compounds and harm nature reserves. The freeze has stalled the expansion of dairy, pig, and poultry farms—a major source of nitrogen in the form of ammonia from animal waste. Last week, Dutch farmers across the country parked their tractors along highways in the third such protest since October. The government is preparing to enact short-term measures to reduce nitrogen emissions, including lowering the speed limit on highways. To reduce emissions significantly, many experts say the Netherlands's farm animal sector—the densest in the world—must shrink and recycle more of its nitrogen.

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