OTTAWA — Some "Neanderthals" in the United States never will acknowledge that acid rain is a crisis, but for the U.S. Senate majority leader to question its seriousness is stupid, a Canadian Cabinet member said Thursday.
Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.) said Wednesday there is no need for Congress to mandate new emission controls on coal-burning power factories because government studies indicate less than 1% of eastern U.S. lakes are acidified and no Western lakes are affected. Byrd told a Senate committee: "We are not facing an environmental Armageddon."
Canadian Environment Minister Tom McMillan disputed Byrd's remarks on Thursday, telling reporters: "We have a monumental task in getting official circles in the United States to see what acid rain is doing to themselves and to us. I don't think we should despair when an American senator says something stupid."
He added that Canada will "continue to press the case and maybe write off some of the Neanderthals who by definition will never be convinced."