An Analysis of Issues Concerning "Acid Rain"

RCED-85-13: Published: Dec 11, 1984. Publicly Released: Dec 11, 1984.

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GAO examined the issues involved in the decision on controlling acid deposition, or acid rain. GAO also examined: (1) whether available scientific information could indicate clearly the appropriateness of beginning control action; and (2) the current state of knowledge on the subject.

GAO found that, because the Clean Air Act currently focuses on concentrations of pollutants near their sources, any air pollution control approach to deal with acid rain in this century would necessitate additions to, or a basic reorientation of, the ambient air quality standard approach in the present act. The dispute persists over whether it would be advisable to establish emission controls promptly to reduce acid rain or wait further. GAO believes that having control plans ready could save time, and therefore spare resources, in the event a need for rapid action becomes evident. GAO concluded that, regardless of decisions that are made to control acid rain in the short run, further scientific work will be needed for a number of years.

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