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Officials Cite ‘Political Will’ To Fight Acid Rain

April 12, 1985

QUEBEC (AP) _ Northeastern states and provinces in eastern Canada are demonstrating the political will to fight acid rain, officials from the area declared Friday.

In a communique issued at the close of a conference attended by representatives of 15 states and six provinces, Quebec Environment Minister Adrien Ouellette and James Hoyte, secretary of environmental affairs in Massachusetts, said they noted ″a political will for action.″

Hoyte told a news conference the two-day meeting ″provided us with a common basis of information″ to continue the fight against acid rain.

The next step, he said, is to prepare an action plan for presentation in June at the next joint meeting of New England governors and eastern Canadian premiers.

Ouellette told reporters the conference ″established that it would not be wise to wait before acting, because it would be disastrous to our environment.″

Acid rain refers to industrial pollutants, chiefly sulfur dioxide and nitrogren oxides, that travel long distances before falling to earth.

It has been blamed for killing fish in lakes and streams in the northeast and damaging forests in Europe. A major cleanup program could cost billions of dollars and eliminate jobs in the industrial Midwest.

The Reagan administration, officials of Midwest states and spokesmen for the electric power and coal industries say research has not proved the need for an expensive attack on acid rain.

Officials of such major generators of acid rain as Ohio, Indiana and Illinois attended the conference, but took little part in the discussions.

The closing session Friday was devoted to descriptions of acid rain emission control programs in effect in various states, and differing views of what needs to be done next.

″Clearly, we don’t agree,″ Paul Guthrie of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said in a review of the Midwest region, but he added that there is increasing recognition of environmental damage probably linked to acid rain.

″What you find when you cut though all of the rhetoric is not that we disagree over there being a problem, but rather we disagree on how big is it, how serious is it, and what ought we to do about it,″ he said.

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