Acid Rain Program 2001 Progress Report
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- 2001 Progress Report (PDF) (48 pp., 3.3 MB)
- Appendix A) (Excel, 33 K)| Appendix A (PDF) (62 pp., 400 K)
- Appendix B1 (Excel, 55 K) | Appendix B1 (PDF) (37 pp., 307 K)
- Appendix B2 (WordPerfect, 20 K) | Appendix B2 (PDF)
(11 pp., 37 K)
As established by Congress, the Acid Rain Program requires major reductions in electric-generating facilities' emissions of sulfur dioxides (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). These pollutants are the key components of acid rain; they also form fine particles and gases that damage human health and impair visibility and can damage sensitive forests, contribute to coastal eutrophication, and speed the weathering of buildings, monuments, and other structures. The Acid Rain Program has succeeded in reducing SO2 emissions using a cap and trade system that limits the total emissions of SO2 while allowing sources flexibility to find the best and cheapest compliance method and encouraging technological innovation. The trading component of the SO2 program has lowered the costs of compliance and has not resulted in any significant geographic shifts in emissions. (NOx emissions have also been reduced using a more traditional approach. These emissions reductions have contributed to measurable improvements in air quality, reductions in deposition, and recovery of acid-sensitive waters.
Emission Reductions. SO2 emissions from power plants in 2001 were 10.6 million tons, 33% lower than 1990 emissions and 5% lower than 2000 emissions. These emissions reductions have been and continue to be achieved at a significantly lower cost than expected in 1990. NOx emissions from power plants were 4.10 million tons in 2001, 25% lower than 1990 emissions and 8% lower than 2000 emissions.
Environmental Benefits. The emissions reductions under the Acid Rain Program have significantly reduced atmospheric concentrations of SO2 (a precursor to fine particle formation) and sulfates (a primary component of fine particles). These reductions benefit public health by reducing the incidence of respiratory and cardiac illnesses and have contributed to an improvement in visibility in the Eastern U.S. Atmospheric deposition of sulfate, a primary component of acid rain, has also decreased significantly. Acid neutralizing capacity, a major measure of recovery in acidified lakes and streams, is beginning to rise in streams in the Northeast, including the Adirondacks. This is an indicator that recovery from acidification is beginning. Nitrate deposition has not decreased regionally as a result of the Acid Rain Program, although some localized areas have seen reductions. This is because the NOx reductions were smaller than the SO2 reductions and other types of sources contribute significantly to emissions of NOx.
Infrastructure for Simple, Accurate Compliance and Assessment. EPA has developed a transparent compliance system that requires continuous monitoring of emissions from all affected sources. Sources can conduct much of the business necessary to comply with the Acid Rain Program requirements on-line, including submitting emissions data and transferring allowances. EPA has also developed on-line tools that allow visitors to the Acid Rain Program website access emissions data, information about allowance transfers, air quality data, and atmospheric deposition data.