Whatever happened to acid rain?

Recently, my coworkers and I have started tracking the internet chatter about acid rain. We were curious about what the world was saying about this iconic environmental issue. Acid rain is taught in most schools across the country so imagine our surprise when we found a pretty significant number of people who thought the problem of acid rain has been solved.

So…what really did happen to acid rain? It was a big problem in the 80s and early 90s, but now we don’t hear much about it. This year marks the 20th anniversary of EPA’s Acid Rain Program—a program that requires power plants across the country to reduce SO2 (sulfur dioxide) and NOx (nitrogen oxide), the pollutants that form acid rain.

Because of our program, we’ve seen power plant emissions of SO2 and NOx plummet. Many sensitive lakes and streams in the East are starting to recover from the effects of acid rain. And the days of dying forests and lakes totally devoid of fish are, increasingly, a thing of the past.

The success of the Acid Rain Program has been impressive: 63 percent lower SO2 emissions, 70 percent lower NOx emissions, and 100% compliance! We’ve come a long way but, unfortunately, acid rain is still a very real problem in some parts of the country and it is one that EPA is committed to continuing to address.

So – whatever happened to acid rain? We’d like to tell you what we’ve been doing about acid rain, but more importantly, we’re very interested in hearing what YOU guys think. How did you first learn about acid rain? What did you know about the Acid Rain Program and what EPA has been doing over the past 20 years to try to solve the issue?  How has acid rain affected your community?  What more do you think EPA should be doing  to address this issue? Tell us what you think and please join us over the next few weeks as we continue our dialogue documenting the past 20 years of the program on Facebook , and Twitter .

About the author: Josh Stewart is the Communications Intern with the EPA’s Clean Air Markets Division. Josh is currently working on his Master’s Degree in Political Management at The George Washington University.

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