Acid Rain

March 7, 1986

Report Outline
International Ire
U.S. Policy Dilemma
Clean Coal Technology
Special Focus

International Ire

Canada's Complaints Get Summit Notice

For years the Canadian government has accused the United States of dumping its air pollution garbage, particularly acid rain, in Canada's front yard. Canadian officials say half of the sulfur dioxide, the primary ingredient in acid rain, that falls on Canada's eastern provinces drifts across the border from the United States. The cumulative effect has been devastating. By Canada's count, 13 salmon-bearing rivers in Nova Scotia and at least 1,600 of Ontario's lakes are “acid dead,” incapable of supporting fish life, and almost one million lakes in Ontario and Quebec provinces are listed as vulnerable to acid rain damage.

Similar complaints have come from various places in the Eastern United States, especially New England and upper New York state. But their appeals for help from Washington, endorsed by environmentalists nationwide, have been nullified by opposition from the upper Midwest and Ohio River Valley, regions whose industries are great users of coal high in sulfur content and are identified as prime sources of the acid rain troubling eastern Canada and the Northeastern United States.

After a decade of complaining about this unwanted U.S. export, Canada last year embarked on an ambitious program to cut its own industrial sulfur emissions in half by 1994. Having moved to put his own house in order, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney now is in a better position to push forward his country's campaign to persuade the United States to take similar steps. The Reagan administration, however, has doggedly insisted that not enough is known about acid rain to mandate a multibillion-dollar national control program. President Reagan has called instead for more research. The gap between the two countries' positions has made acid rain an increasingly contentious issue, elevating it to the chief topic of discussion when Mulroney meets with Reagan in Washington on March 18.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Air Pollution
Nov. 13, 2015  Air Pollution and Climate Change
Nov. 14, 2003  Air Pollution Conflict
Jan. 26, 2001  Global Warming Treaty
Mar. 07, 1997  New Air Quality Standards
Nov. 01, 1996  Global Warming
Oct. 27, 1995  Indoor Air Pollution
Apr. 03, 1992  Ozone Depletion
Mar. 08, 1991  Acid Rain: New Approach to Old Problem
Nov. 27, 1987  Air Pollution Countdown
Apr. 10, 1987  Ozone Mystery
Mar. 07, 1986  Acid Rain
Oct. 16, 1981  Wood Fuel's Developing Market
Nov. 21, 1980  Air Pollution Control: Progress and Prospects
Jun. 20, 1980  Acid Rain
Mar. 19, 1976  Ozone Controversy
Apr. 26, 1967  Air Pollution: Rising Threat
Jan. 08, 1964  Air Contamination
Jan. 14, 1959  Cleaner Air
Apr. 06, 1955  Poisoned Air
Aug. 26, 1949  Air Pollution
Air Pollution
Regional Political Affairs: Canada
Water Pollution