Keeping A Broad Basis Of Assessment And Action

To review, acid deposition is an end product of a complex series of interactions among atmospheric chemical species emitted by both natural and human sources. For policy assessment purposes, the most important groups of chemical species are compounds containing sulfur and nitrogen compounds that are emitted from factories, power plants, and automobiles based on fossil-fuel combustion. In addition, volatile organic carbon compounds and fine particles play a role in modulating chemical processes and acidity. Some key compounds remain unchanged in the atmosphere and some are neutralized, but others are oxidized into more acidic forms through a complicated series of chemical, meteorological, physical, and biological interactions.

Decisions about the control of acid deposition must deal with the environmental impacts of estimated future emission levels as well as present levels. Projections depend on many complex and interacting socioeconomic factors. The predictability of how rapidly and to what extent fossil fuels will be replaced by clearer and safer fuels (society may change transportation and other energy use habits) and the interrelationships among countries of the world becoming driving influences for these changes is highly uncertain. Given the demonstrated value of examining multiple causes and effects together, it will continue to be important to keep the base of assessment broad in spite of the uncertainties. The elements of such assessments are illustrated in Figure 1.

On issues related to acid rain, other policy discussions going on throughout North America also illustrate the growing awareness of the interconnections, as well as the need to capitalize on the relationship in developing strategies for the future. For example, EPA, through the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), is leading the development of combined ozone, particulate matter (aerosols), and regional haze implementation program rules and guidance. Other activities at the regional level,

8 KEEPING A BROAD BASIS OF ASSESSMENT AND ACTION

Integrated Assessment Process

Scenarios

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Drivers

Ol Change

Controllable Factors

Scenarios

Feedback

Drivers

Ol Change

Controllable Factors

Figure 1 Important elements to consider in an assessment of acid rain in the context of other important environmental, energy, and economic concerns. See ftp site for color image.

such as the Western Governors' Association (WGA) Air Quality Initiative, the Ozone Transport and Analysis Group (OTAG), the Southern Appalachian Mountain Initiative (SAMI), the Southern Oxidant Study (SOS>, and the North American Research Strategy for Tropospheric Ozone (NARSTO), are addressing various science and policy issues associated with ozone, particulate matter, and regional haze.

On a continental scale, the Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC) is working on North American strategies for addressing transboundary concerns, which include ozone, particulate matter, regional haze, and acid rain along with other hazardous pollutants. Finally, on a much broader scale, the U.S. global climate change program is addressing regional climate assessment for areas throughout the United States. The regional air quality concerns addressed by FACA and the climate concerns to be considered in these discussions are closely linked through the development of aerosols that can influence climate on regional scales as well as produce other problems. On a larger policy implementation level, the two are linked through the development of energy strategies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the emission of other more traditionally harmful air pollutants.

All of these programs and approaches share the same fundamental concerns. The role of natural or background processes and the role of chemical interactions in determining the levels of impacts in different regions continue to be fundamental overarching scientific questions. The implementation issues of emissions trading versus pollution prevention versus technological controls arc also part of each aspect of the various debates. Assessments of trade-offs for any decisions made with respect to any of these issues must consider the less quantifiable, and sometimes more uncertain, impacts associated with heath, social impacts and values, equity, and related environmental concerns about water and soil quality as well as air. Given these strong interconnections, it is important to make the best use of research and policy-making resources across organizations addressing acid rain and related issues, where energy and the environment are key factors.

REFERENCES

Graedel, T. E„ T. S. Bates, A. F. Bouwman, D. Cunnold, J. Dignon, I. Fung, D.J. Jacob, B.K. Lamb, J.A. Logan, G. Marland, P. Middleton, J.M. Pacyna, M. Placet, and C. Veldt, A compilation of inventories of emissions to the atmosphere, Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 7, 1-26, 1993.

Graedel, T. E., and R J. Crutzen, The changing atmosphere, Sci. Am, 261 (Sept.), 58, 1989. Middleton, P. Sources of air pollutants, in Composition, Chemistry, and Climate of the

Atmosphere, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1995. Rhodes, S. L., and P. Middleton, The complex challenge of controlling acid rain, Environment, 25, 6-9, 31-38, 1983.

U.S. National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program (NAPAP), Acidic Deposition: State of Science and Technology, Summary Report of the U.S. National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program. Washington, DC. 1991. U.S. National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program (NAPAP), NAPAP 1996 Report to Congress, 1998, http://www.nnic.noaa.gov/CENR/NAPAP/NAPAP.96.htm

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