Sunday, April 11, 2010

Did Spitzer Let us Down on Acid Rain Too?

Years ago had a page especially devoted to Acid Rain, as it does now with other Rochester-area Environmental Issues. Slowly, however, the Acid Rain issue faded away from our local news and disappeared altogether. I took down the page irrationally thinking that if our media thought this environmental problem was over, it must be over. What was I thinking? Just when it looked liked we could solve a great big environmental problem, this story reared its ugly head from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week:

EPA Launches Blog on Acid Rain “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is hosting a month-long online discussion to expand the conversation on acid rain. Acid rain is a serious environmental problem that affects large parts of the United States and is particularly damaging to lakes, streams, and forests and the plants and animals that live in these ecosystems. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), the pollutants that form acid rain, can cause serious respiratory illnesses and premature death.” (April 8, 2010)

What gives? I thought then State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer took care of this problem. (Press Release: Adirondack Council Praises Eliot Spitzer for Job Well Done- 7/8/2003, The Adirondack Council) Since the moment he hit the ground as AG back in 1998, Mr. Spitzer tackled Acid Rain by going after Midwestern power companies whose sulfur dioxide continually waffled over to our area, acidifying our lakes and streams. Adirondack Lakes were on the verge of collapse. Though they looked pristine and beautiful, they were so acidic that fish and aquatic plants were sizzling away in an acid bath. Then, after some legislation, you could drink the water and catch fish again.

Many used to applaud Spitzer’s heroic efforts on Acid Rain and some have used the reduction of Acid Rain (without attributing much of the success to Spitzer) in our area as a model of how governments and business could finally get together and solve environmental problems like Climate Change. Yeah! Humans can actually address big problems.

But somehow, Acid Rain is back in the news and the government is hot on it: Acid Rain - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation “Acid rain is a by-product of our industrialized society. Air pollution combines with water in the atmosphere and falls to the earth as acidic rain or snow. Discussions and reports about acid rain often use the terms acid deposition or atmospheric deposition to describe this return of airborne pollutants to earth. Pollutants can be deposited from the atmosphere in rain or snow (wet deposition) or without precipitation (dry deposition).”

Good gracious. Can’t we solve anything? What went wrong? Did we take our eye off the ball?

I have a sneaking suspicion that when the media decided to trample Spitzer’s name through the mud because of what would have been in Europe a mere peccadillo, the reduction of Acid Rain, one of Spitzer’s great accomplishments for which he has been given too little appreciation, went the way of a big snooty dismissal by mainstream media too.

Mainstream media needs to grow up. They cannot continue to frame environmental issues as the quirks and idiosyncrasies of groups they don’t like because their sponsors are oftentimes the very corporations that caused problems like Acid Rain. Yes, we need jobs from corporations and yes it must be pointed out when our leaders let us down. But, to throw the baby out with the bathwater, an ideology that moronically believes that if we tarnish the leader of an environmental problem, the environmental problem will go away with its champion, is sheer unadulterated lunacy. Not to mention that as an environmental policy, it is suicidal. Spitzer didn’t let us down on Acid Rain, the media did.

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