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'Acid in the Blarney'

April 09, 1985

Your editorial (March 20), "Acid in the Blarney," failed to recognize the facts on acid rain and U.S. air pollution control. The editorial states that Canada is "the only country that has taken real action" to clean up acid rain. The fact is Canada is behind the United States in curbing emissions. Our nation leads the world in air pollution control. The annual price tag for this control now exceeds $25 billion. From 1973 to 1982, electric utilities cut sulfur dioxide emissions by 17% while increasing coal use more than 50%. Total electricity production rose by 25%.

One-third of a new power plant's cost is for pollution control and the cost of adding "scrubbers" on older plants can exceed the original plant investment. U.S. utilities operate 119 scrubbers and 100 more are to come. Canada has none.

Sulfur dioxide emissions will continue to decline as new plants are operated and as new coal-burning technologies--such as the combined-cycle coal gasification project at Southern California Edison's Cool Water plant--are introduced.

Despite a sharp cut in sulfur dioxide emissions, the federal government's 1984 assessment report found that rainfall acidity remained stable over the past 10 to 15 years.

This nation has a demonstrated commitment to reducing emissions. The Reagan Administration has recognized the need for caution before making decisions to impose additional controls at extremely high cost to the consumer.

WILLIAM McCOLLAM JR.

Washington, D.C.

McCollam is president of the Edison Electric Institute, an association of electric companies.

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