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Studying acid rain - again

Another panel to study acid rain? Does the US really need it? It depends on what it does. The panel is to be set up by the President's Council on Environmental Quality. Its announced job is to review federal research into acid rain, its current focus, and future research needs.

If the study group merely pushes for general research, then it will have been unnecessary. Two scientific reports published this summer have shown that acid rain is a serious environmental problem, and that broad reduction in industrial pollution will correspondingly reduce acid rain. No need to tread that ground again.

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But in today's economy neither government nor industry has the massive funds required to attack industrial pollution everywhere: Present methods are extremely expensive. What's needed is specificity. The new panel will be a help if it focuses current and future research in that direction. The US needs to know, for instance: In which geographic areas would reduction of industrial pollution result in the greatest decrease in acid rain? In which industries would a pollution decrease similarly pay off most? And what are the most effective, and inexpensive, methods of reducing pollution?

Let the new group see that research is sharply directed.

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