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New York’s Attorney General Takes a Stand Against Acid Rain Pollution

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Fund Established to Fight Acid Rain Pollution

A New Grant to Help Reverse Acid Rain Pollution in the Adirondacks

Acid Rain Pollution Threatens the Adirondacks. Photo Courtesy of Rensselaer MagazineNew York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has created a $400,000 grant to fund projects for reversing acid rain pollution in the Adirondacks. The Adirondack Acid Rain Recovery Program will help identify and implement the most effective solutions to the restoration of hundreds of lakes and streams that suffer from damages of acid rain.

A chronic problem that has plagued the Adirondacks for more than 150 years, acid rain is caused by pollution from coal-fired power plants in Ohio and other states in the Midwest. Acid rain is a precipitation that comes in different forms besides rain such as snow, sleet, hail and fog. (It also appears as deposits of acid particles, aerosols and gases).

As far back as 1872, Robert Angus Smith wrote a book according to the Adirondack Museum that connected acid rain as the major cause to coal burning in England. The Adirondacks are particularly vulnerable to acid rain because of its geographic location. It wasn’t until the 1980s that conservationists began taking acid rain more seriously. Studies were conducted that showed a big decline in entire fish populations. Scientific findings as per the DEC’s website suggested how lakes like Big Moose Lake in the southwestern Adirondacks had become acidic during the last 10 to 50 years, a period when air pollution peaked.

“Historical records from this 1,286-acre lake document healthy fish in the lake and in nearby streams during the 1930s. However, surveys conducted in the 1980s in the North Branch Moose River Watershed showed a serious loss of many fish populations,” DEC experts state.

Since the ‘80s, acid rain has decreased significantly from state and federal anti-pollution efforts. The aim for Schneiderman’s new program is to jumpstart research projects to further eliminate the impacts of acid rain pollution.

“Our own research indicates that many lands and waters in the Adirondacks are still suffering the impacts of acid rain and that new tools are needed to speed the ecological recovery of these treasured areas,” said Dr. Tim Tear of The Nature Conservancy in New York published in Times Union Capitol Confidential article Schneiderman delves into acid rain battle.

The Adirondack Acid Rain Recovery Program will be managed by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). A grant award process and an open, competitive project solicitation will be conducted. New testing methodologies are expected to be used for neutralizing acidity in waters and soils.

What’s impressive about this new environmental benefit program is how Schneiderman obtained the funds from a multi-state settlement in 2010 with Cinergy Corp., now known as Duke Energy Corp., for violating the federal Clean Air Act. The company failed to install technology for controlling sulfur dioxide (S02) emissions at its coal-fired plants in the Midwest.

Additionally, Schneiderman is taking other aggressive steps to improve the ecosystem in the Adirondacks. He continues to pursue legal actions to safeguard the health and welfare of the residents. According to Rick Karlin’s Capitol Confidential blog Schneiderman is suing both current and former owners of Homer City Station, a major Pennsylvania electric power plant for violating the federal Clean Air Act that caused S02 pollution to come into New York.

Leading a coalition of seven states, Schneiderman contacted the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in an effort to sue the agency for failing to address methane emissions from the oil and natural gas industry. Even though the EPA has concluded that methane is a major climate change pollutant emitted by the industry in large quantities, the agency has failed to deter these emissions.

Diana Denner is a Contributor to The Free George. Photo Courtesy of Rensselaer Magazine

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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