Air Quality - Rochester, NY area

Consider how our air becomes polluted and what we can do to prevent the diminishing air quality in the Rochester, NY area.  Also, consider how our air quality will be affected by Climate Change.  

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Page Contents: Air Quality NewsLinks | Air Quality and Climate Change | Determining Air Quality in Rochester | Air Quality Discussions |Rules and Regulations on Air Quality | Government Resources on Air Quality | Non-Governmental Resources on Air Quality | Acid Rain | Essays on Air Quality

Why the Air Quality issue is important to Rochesterians and our environment:

Air Quality IconThe air quality in Rochester is affected by many factors, including energy, fossil fueled transportation, mobile toxins from vehicles, particulates in the air from wood stoves, etc.

Rochester’s failing air quality Ho Hum. The Rochester, NY area and Monroe County get another failing grade for ozone pollution, an ‘F’, from the American Lung Association’s “The State of the Air 2010 “. Here’s the skinny: “The State of the Air 2010 shows that the air quality in many places has improved, but that over 175 million people—roughly 58 percent—still suffer pollution levels that are too often dangerous to breathe. Unhealthy air remains a threat to the lives and health of millions of people in the United States, despite great progress. Even as the nation explores the complex challenges of global warming and energy, air pollution lingers as a widespread and dangerous reality.” It’s a yawner for most folks as it goes on year after year and no one is getting worked up about it. No marching in the streets. It barely gets local news coverage. Environmental news of this sort is like riding in a jet and feeling a sudden drop in altitude. You look around and no one else seems to be paying any attention, so it must be OK. Relax, take a deep breath. more...

Air quality in Rochester, NY as we head into Climate Change

According to the American Lung Association’s report “State of the Air 2012”, Monroe County received a grade of ‘C’ for ground-level ozone. That means Monroe County had four orange-alert days.  That’s up from the 2011 report when we had got an ‘F’. Back in 2004, Rochester was ranked 43rd worst metropolitan area for air quality. (Dirty Air, Dirty Power.) And, the last time the EPA measured Monroe County for ground-level ozone in 1997, we received a ‘marginal’grade, up from the previous ‘nonattainment’ grade.

This progress seems to be good news until you consider the complexity of air quality. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) measures carbon monoxide, ground-level ozone, lead, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and mercury.  But even the EPA only measures a fraction of the air pollutants that assault our lungs. There are at least 188 hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) that the Clean Air Act does not establish air quality standards for.  You can find out a variety of toxins (called a toxic release inventory (TRI)) being released in our Rochester area by checking theRight To Know Network. Or, go to Scorecard and punch in your zip code to find out who’s polluting near your home.  more...


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Air Quality and Climate Change

Because they are so closely related, air quality, and air pollution should be a part of Climate Change studies.

  • 'The influence of climate on air quality is substantial and well established (Jacob, 2005), giving rise to the expectation that changes in climate are likely to alter patterns of air pollution concentrations. Higher temperatures hasten the chemical reactions that lead to ozone and secondary particle formation. Higher temperatures, and perhaps elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations, also lead to increased emissions of ozone-relevant VOC precursors by vegetation (Hogrefe et al., 2005).' (Page 407, Report 11-18 Response to Climate Change in New York State (ClimAID)
  • Climate Change & Air Quality "Climate change and air pollution are closely coupled. Just as air pollution can have adverse effects on human health and ecosystems, it can also impact the Earth’s climate. When energy from the sun reaches the Earth, the planet absorbs some of this energy and radiates the rest back to space as heat. The Earth’s surface temperature depends on this balance between incoming and outgoing energy. Atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs) like carbon dioxide (CO2 ) and methane (CH4 ) can trap this energy and prevent the heat from escaping "  -from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Integrated effects of air pollution and climate change on forests: A northern hemisphere perspective "Many air pollutants and greenhouse gases have common sources, contribute to radiative balance, interact in the atmosphere, and affect ecosystems. The impacts on forest ecosystems have been traditionally treated separately for air pollution and climate change. However, the combined effects may significantly differ from a sum of separate effects. We review the links between air pollution and climate change and their interactive effects on northern hemisphere forests. A simultaneous addressing of the air pollution and climate change effects on forests may result in more effective research, management and monitoring as well as better integration of local, national and global environmental policies. " - ScienceDirect

Determining the quality of our air here in Rochester, NY

 There are several online resources for monitoring the air quality of our area.

  • What is the state of Rochester, New York’s Air Quality right now? Go here to find that out: "ROCHESTER" - FROM The NYSDEC Air Quality monitoring website allows a real-time view into the ambient air quality database of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. In general, data is polled at the top of each hour from each station. It is immediately displayed as it is collected. This site provides near real time air quality measurement data from the New York State DEC Air Monitoring network. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)
  • Many pollutants, which are measureable, are monitored and measured by our government.  But they are not all the pollutants in our air. There are at least 188 hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) that the Clean Air Act does not establish air quality standards for.  Here is what is measured: National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) "The Clean Air Act, which was last amended in 1990, requires EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (40 CFR part 50) for pollutants considered harmful to public health and the environment. The Clean Air Act identifies two types of national ambient air quality standards. Primary standards provide public health protection, including protecting the health of "sensitive" populations such as asthmatics, children, and the elderly. Secondary standards provide public welfare protection, including protection against decreased visibility and damage to animals, crops, vegetation, and buildings. EPA has set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for six principal pollutants, which are called "criteria" pollutants. They are listed below. Units of measure for the standards are parts per million (ppm) by volume, parts per billion (ppb) by volume, and micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m3). "
  • How is that air quality outside of our area’s schools?  Using a school’s name and address, find the air quality outside a local school.  It looks like some of the nation’s worst are in our area:  Schools that ranked worst “A USA TODAY analysis of EPA data indicated the air outside these schools had the highest levels of dangerous toxic chemicals, most of which have never been tested for their effects on children.”  You can also type in “Monroe County” and “New York” and get a sense of the air quality of many of our county’s air quality.  Looks disturbing: USA TODAY Special Report – The Smokestack Effect – Toxic Air and America’s Schools "USA Today used and EPA model to track the path of industrial pollution and mapped the locations of almost 128, 000 schools to determine the levels of toxic chemicals outside. The potential problems that emerged were widespread, insidious and largely unaddressed. " News, Travel, Weather, Entertainment, Sports, Technology, U.S. & World -
  • What is the state of our air in Monroe County? Get the latest data on Monroe County  American Lung Association’s “The State of the Air 2010
  • Ambient Air Quality Monitoring - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation To protect humans and the environment from damage by air pollution, DEC continually measures levels of pollutants in the air. The department regularly reports the results of these measurements -- in the case of ozone, which at high levels can be a threat to human health, the results and predicted pollution levels are reported in real time, on DEC's website and through broadcast media.
  • AIRNow - The AIRNow - Rochester, NY Air Quality is an index for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted your outdoor air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you. The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air.
  • EPA TRI Explorer | US EPA "The state fact sheets summarize the basic Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data for each state from 2002. The TRI is a publicly available database containing information about releases and other waste management of toxic chemicals reported by industrial facilities. The TRI was established by section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986. The Community Right-to-Know provisions of EPCRA are intended to provide information to the public about the presence and release of toxic chemicals in their communities. Following passage of the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, the TRI was expanded to include reporting of additional waste management and pollution prevention activities. "
  • Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) National Analysis U.S. facilities report detailed information to EPA on their management of toxic chemicals, including releases to the environment. The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) National Analysis interprets this information and examines trends in releases, waste management practices, and pollution prevention (P2) activities. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • The AAFA Spring Allergy Capitals "There is no place safe from allergies in America, and some cities are more troublesome than others. This Spring Allergy Capitals™ report is an independent research project of AAFA sponsored by DYMISTA™, the first and only seasonal allergy spray to block histamine and treat inflammation for effective relief of seasonal allergy symptoms. This is an annual research project of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) to identify the 100 most challenging places to live with allergies during the spring season. This year, Jackson, Mississippi rose to the #1 spot "
  • Where are those air, water, and land toxic chemicals being released near your home? What health effects are they causing? Find out here: myRight-To-Know TRI application  Are you interested in learning what facilities are near your home, office, school or another area? The myRight-To-Know app can help you. For any location or address, myRTK geographically displays nearby facilities that report to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program, as well as facilities with EPA air, water or hazardous waste program permits." -from the Environmental Protection Agency


Air Quality Discussions:

Please take a moment and join in discussion about Air Quality in our area. These discussions can be found on my blog: Rochester Thoughts. 

  • Rochester’s failing air quality   Ho Hum.  The Rochester, NY area and Monroe County get another failing grade for ozone pollution, an ‘F’, from the American Lung Association’s “The State of the Air 2010 “.  Here’s the skinny: “The State of the Air 2010 shows that the air quality in many places has improved, but that over 175 million people—roughly 58 percent—still suffer pollution levels that are too often dangerous to breathe.   Unhealthy air remains a threat to the lives and health of millions of people in the United States, despite great progress. Even as the nation explores the complex challenges of global warming and energy, air pollution lingers as a widespread and dangerous reality.”    It’s a yawner for most folks as it goes on year after year and no one is getting worked up about it.  No marching in the streets.  It barely gets local news coverage.  Environmental news of this sort is like riding in a jet and feeling a sudden drop in altitude.  You look around and no one else seems to be paying any attention, so it must be OK.  Relax, take a deep breath.  more...
  • How are Those New Environmental Laws Doing?   If you have been following the Climate Change debates in Congress, you know well enough how hard it is to get any kind of environmental law passed. Besides dealing with economic hardships and compliance hurdles that have to be figured out when considering any new law, there are still large swaths of public officials who don’t even believe we have environmental problems, or looming catastrophes like Climate Change.  “Global Warming is just a hoax” is continually piped by the uninformed ideologues, despite all evidence to the contrary.      So, it’s no wonder that those who care about our environment and read the depressing litany of environmental disasters (oil spills, melting glaciers, water shortages) get excited when a few environmental laws do get passed.  Hey, they may be a drop in the bucket for a planet headed towards environmental collapse, but at least there is forward movement. more...
  • Did Spitzer Let us Down on Acid Rain Too? Years ago had a page especially devoted to Acid Rain, as it does now with other Rochester-area Environmental Issues. Slowly, however, the Acid Rain issue faded away from our local news and disappeared altogether. I took down the page irrationally thinking that if our media thought this environmental problem was over, it must be over. What was I thinking? Just when it looked liked we could solve a great big environmental problem, this story reared its ugly head from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week:  more...
  • No more Open Burning Long needed, I was surprised to see this new state regulation from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) just appear on the DEC press releases.  I haven’t seen a mainstream media item on this, but it’s big news.  Preventing the open burning of household trash in outlying communities, in light of what we know about Dixons and other air pollutants and global warming should have been enacted a long time ago. So, without much fanfare and unlike the brouhaha over the new bottle bill, this regulation, this new regulation should  fill a gaping hole in our state’s air quality laws.  Check out: New Regulation on Open Burning Takes Effect Oct. 14 - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation Taking a step to reduce harmful air pollutants and help prevent wildfires, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has extended restrictions on the open burning of residential waste effective Oct. 14. The open burning of residential waste will be prohibited in all communities statewide, regardless of population, with exceptions for burning tree limbs and branches at limited times and other certain circumstances (detailed below). Previously, the ban applied only in towns with populations of 20,000 or more. The New York State Environmental Board approved this state regulation on Sept. 1.  (October 5, 09) Press Releases - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation [more on Air Quality in our area]
  • Rochester's Air Quality Important information about our area's Air Quality, which of course determines our health and Transportation issues in our area. Home - American Lung Association in New York American Lung Association’s 10th Annual State of the Air Report Details Air Quality in New York State New Standards Provide New Insight into New York’s Toxic Air The American Lung Association’s tenth annual State of the Air report, released today, finds that over 12.5 million New Yorkers - a stunning 65 percent of the state’s residents - live in counties where air pollution levels endanger lives. According to the report, which applies new and stricter federal air quality standards, 22 out of the 33 counties with air quality monitors received failing grades.
  • Green Isolationism Isolationists, most notably George Washington in his farewell address “The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible,” believe that one’s territory can be contained, one’s sovereignty sustained by removing oneself from the rest. And while it was probably wise council for a young nation to stay out of ‘political connections’ as we built our new nation, isolationism of any kind really is not possible in today’s world. Isolation is only an illusion, especially in our environment. Connections are the rule. A sand storm in Africa gives Central American’s asthma. more...
  • Global Warming and Ranking Rochester Rochester got an ego boost in May ranking 14th for the least amount of carbon emissions for major US cities. While it’s good to note that our fair Eastern city (Western cities on the whole ranked lower than Eastern cities) did well for less carbon emissions) it’s also important to note that this study was not comprehensive. It “used data from 2005 that measured only power-plant emissions related to residential energy use and emissions from cars and trucks” (-from Rochester ranks 14th best in national study of cities' carbon emissions) and left a lot of other factors out. Some of the things we despair about (like higher prices for energy here in our upstate city and our short summer air conditioning use) actually accounts for some of our good numbers. more...
  • Environmental Thoughts - Rochester, NY: Latest Press - American Lung Association site#links: EPA Ozone Standards: Half Measures and Compromises Are Not Good Enough "Washington, DC (March 12, 2008). Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a critical tightening of the health-based National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone. We wish we could be happier about this decision, but we cannot. The standard announced today, although an improvement, falls far short of the requirements of the Clean Air Act. We are unable to celebrate half measures when the risks are so evident, when the science and the scientists are so united about what is needed and when the missed opportunity means that thousands will suffer more and die sooner than they should. Furthermore, we reject the suggestions made by the Administrator to weaken and undermine the Clean Air Act itself. Coming from the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, such suggestions are truly outrageous." more...
  • Sequestration, a Slam Dunk? Though building a new clean-coal power plant at the Huntley Station in the Town of Tonawanda (about an hour away by car) isn’t within the political purview of Monroe County, it is within our environmental sphere of influence. “Building a new clean-coal power plant at the site of the Huntley Station in the Town of Tonawanda would pump an estimated $133 million a year into the Erie County economy during its construction and a projected $94 million a year once the facility is running, a study to be released today found. (Nov 30, 07)” The Buffalo News: Business: Report lauds planned coal plant Meaning, that if does not go well with the large-scale use of Sequestration (a silver bullet solution hailed as the savior of coal power) we will probably reap some of the consequences here in Rochester, just as we do from the power plants out West. I believe that all that we do personally to curb Global Warming will be negated if we, or anyone within our planetary influence, burns large amounts of coal for energy. more...


Rules and Regulation on Air Quality

Official sources for getting the regulation on what our air quality should be

  • Clean Air Act | US EPA The Clean Air Act is the law that defines EPA's responsibilities for protecting and improving the nation's air quality and the stratospheric ozone layer. The last major change in the law, the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, was enacted by Congress in 1990. Legislation passed since then has made several minor changes.
  • Clean Indoor Air Act - from New York State Department of Health


Nature's Reclamation

("Nature's Reclamation" by Frank J. Regan)

Governmental Resources for Air Quality

  • State Health Department Provides 23,000 Health Care Providers with New Asthma Toolkit Toolkit Promotes National Recommendations to Better Manage Asthma ALBANY, N.Y. (July 17, 2009) – To combat the ongoing asthma epidemic in New York State, the State Department of Health (DOH) recently developed and distributed a New York State Asthma Guideline Toolkit to support 23,000 primary care providers and asthma specialists in understanding updated national asthma recommendations and translating these recommendations into their practices.
  • Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards | Air & Radiation | US EPA
  • National Low Emission Vehicle Program and Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) LEV | Cars and Light Trucks | US EPA This web site describes the voluntary National LEV regulations, which demonstrate how cooperative, partnership efforts can produce a smarter, cheaper program that reduces regulatory burden while increasing protection of the environment and public health.
  • AIRNow "The Air Quality Index The Air Quality Index (AQI) is an index for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted your outdoor air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you. The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air. EPA calculates the AQI for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. For each of these pollutants, EPA has established national air quality standards to protect public health. For Information regarding indoor air quality please visit the Indoor Web site. The AIRNow Web site The U.S. EPA, NOAA, NPS, tribal, state, and local agencies developed the AIRNow Web site to provide the public with easy access to national air quality information. The Web site offers daily AQI forecasts as well as real-time AQI conditions for over 300 cities across the US, and provides links to more detailed State and local air quality Web sites. Air Quality Forecasts - Nationwide daily air quality forecasts provided by State and local Air Agencies for over 300 major U.S. cities. Air Quality Conditions - Nationwide and regional real-time ozone air quality maps covering 46 US States and parts of Canada. These maps are updated daily every hour. "
  • Find out who the large greenhouse gas emitters are in our Rochester, NY region other places too. 2011 Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Large Facilities "The Facility Level Information on Greenhouse Gases Tool (FLIGHT) gives you access to greenhouse gas data reported to EPA by large emitters, facilities that inject CO2 underground, and suppliers of products that result in GHG emissions when used in the United States. FLIGHT allows you to view data in several formats including maps, tables, charts and graphs for individual facilities or groups of facilities. You can search the data set for individual facilities by name or location or filter the data set by state or county, industry sectors and sub-sectors, annual facility emission thresholds, and greenhouse gas type. " --from EPA


image of Plain English Guide coverThe Plain English Guide to the Clean Air Act provides a brief introduction to the 1990 Clean Air Act. The 1990 Clean Air Act is the most recent version of a law first passed in 1970 to clean up air pollution. This summary covers some of the important provisions of the 1990 Clean Air Act and may help you understand what is in the law and how it may affect you. If you would like to learn more about the 1990 Clean Air Act, visit







The Plain English Guide to the Clean Air Act (PDF) (27pp, 1.1 MB)

Non-Governmental Resources for Air Quality

 Select these major non-governmental sites where you can find information about air quality issues in our area and affect change that will improve our air quality.

  • Clean Air Council | Protecting everyone's right to breathe clean air ! Clean Air Council is a member- supported, non-profit environmental organization dedicated to protecting everyone's right to breathe clean air. The Council works through public education, community advocacy, and government oversight to ensure enforcement of environmental laws.
  • Home - American Lung Association site The mission of the American Lung Association is to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease.
  • BURNING ISSUES - Burning Issues is a project of Clean Air Revival, Inc., a 501C-3 non profit educational organization. Clean Air Revival, Inc. is registered with the Registry of Charitable Trusts in the State of California. Our organization number is #1686895. Burning Issues depends on your donations and grants. 100% of funds further research, office operating expense and education. All labor and our building are donated. There are no paid employees. Please consider donating generously. Your donation helps spread life saving science. Our award winning website: is visited by more than 3,000 people a day from all over the world.
  • Environmental Advocates of New York Environmental Advocates of New York's mission is to protect our air, land, water and wildlife and the health of all New Yorkers. Based in Albany, we monitor state government, evaluate proposed laws, and champion policies and practices that will ensure the responsible stewardship of our shared environment. We work to support and strengthen the efforts of New York's environmental community and to make our state a national leader.
  • NRDC: Natural Resources Defense Council - The Earth's Best Defense NRDC is the nation's most effective environmental action group, combining the grassroots power of 1.2 million members and online activists with the courtroom clout and expertise of more than 350 lawyers, scientists and other professionals.
  • AAAAI - American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology - The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology is the largest professional medical organization in the United States devoted to the allergy/immunology specialty.
  • Clean Air Task Force (CATF) Founded in 1996, the Clean Air Task Force (CATF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring clean air and healthy environments through scientific research, public education, and legal advocacy. Our unique and singular focus on atmospheric issues has allowed us to go deep on the issues, and be persistent and effective. 
  • The Clean Air Coalition of W.N.Y.  "The Clean Air Coalition protects the right of Western New York residents to breathe clean air and live, work, and play in a healthy environment. To protect that right, the Coalition organizes community members and builds diverse coalitions to implement initiatives to reduce environmental hazards. "


State of the Air 2015 "For 16 years, the American Lung Association has analyzed data from official air quality monitors to compile the State of the Air report. The more you learn about the air you breathe, the more you can protect your health and take steps to make our air cleaner and healthier. " American Lung Association

Acid Rain

Because Acid Rain has returned as a air quality concern in our area, I'm am going to start re-tracking the environmental consequences of Acid Rain.  | Many of these NewsLinks no longer exist or even the news sources that published them, but Acid Rain is still around in New York State.

Acid Rain Resources

Acid Rain NewsLinks


  • Soils finally recover after decades of acid rain limits U.S and Canadian efforts to reduce acid rain that were started in the 1990’s are finally paying off today. “The ecosystem is getting back on track,” said Gregory Lawrence, a scientist who has studied the effects of acid rain on forest and aquatic systems for the U.S. Geological Survey since 1990. When he began, Congress had just started regulating acid rain as an offshoot of the 1990 Clean Air Act. The program capped the amount of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide that could be emitted by U.S. power plants. That has cut emissions in half since 1990, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. (December 16, 2015) Great lakes Echo [more on Acid Rain in our area]
  • Rochester plays host to acid rain conference Acid rain can leave lakes without fish and soil without nutrients. It has had a devastating effect — most notably in the Adirondacks during the 1960s and 1970s — that environmental laws and regulations have begun to bring under control. But acid rain, worldwide, has become more pronounced in rapidly industrialized nations, such as China. This past week, about 340 scientists and government officials gathered in Rochester for the Acid Rain 2015 conference to learn about the latest trends and exchange information. Participants came from five continents for the five-day conference, which concluded Friday at the Joseph A. Floreano Riverside Convention Center. Keynote addresses included presentations about acid rain in the United States and abroad. (October 24, 2015) Rochester Democrat and Chronicle [more on Acid Rain in our area]


  • ‘This is a huge success story’: 2 Maine scientists say acid rain effects reversing much faster than expected UNITY, Maine — Two Maine scientists are celebrating good news about the environment, after a decades-long study has shown that the negative effects of acid rain have been reversed much faster than expected. Steve Kahl, a sustainability professor at Unity College, said Thursday that the study looked at lakes throughout most of New England and New York, and it found that environmental regulations and the voluntary actions of industry have sharply reduced sulfur emissions in rain and snow. It also found that soils are recovering quickly, without taking centuries to bounce back that some had predicted would be necessary. Finally, the scientists learned that some of the acidity in the watersheds is organic, occurring naturally, and should not be targeted by the Clean Air Act policy. “Success stories are possible,” Kahl said, adding that the reduction of emissions since the 1970s and 1980s has been critical for water quality. “This is a huge success story for the environment.” The study was published this spring on the website for the journal Environmental Science & Technology. (August 16, 2014) The Bangor Daily News [more on Acid Rain in our area]


  • 50 Years After Its Discovery, Acid Rain Has Lessons for Climate Change In the 1980s, the dying red spruce trees of New England—many of them taller than eight-story buildings and more than three centuries old—furnished frightening proof of the power of acid rain. The trees were seen as a canary in the coal mine, and it was easy to imagine the ensuing consequences for the forest at large. “Half the red spruce… are dead,” Dudley Clendinen wrote for The New York Times from New Hampshire in 1983. “Some of the balsam fir are beginning to look sick. Sugar maples have fallen, as have beech trees, and Dr. Richard M. Klein, one of the two directors of the university’s research project, worries that with spring, they may find that ash trees are down on the mountain, too.” (September 11, 2013) The Atlantic Cities [more on Acid Rain and Climate Change in our area]
  • Rivers and Streams in U.S. Change Their Chemistry Due to Acid Rain Past acid rain could be having a major impact on the streams and rivers in the United States. In the first survey of its kind, scientists looked at long-term alkalinity in these freshwater sources. Now, they've announced that human activities are drastically changing the water chemistry of these riparian ecosystems. Alkalinity is a measure of water's ability to neutralize acid. In excess, it can cause ammonia toxicity and algal blooms. This can alter water quality and harm aquatic life. In addition, increasing alkalinity can harden drinking water, causing pipe scaling and infrastructure problems; it can also result in the salinization of fresh water. In order to test the health of the streams and rivers in the eastern United States, the scientists looked at long-term alkalinity trends in 97 of these freshwater sources, stretching from Florida to New Hampshire. Sites ranged from small headwater streams to some of the nation's largest rivers. (August 27, 2013) Science World Report [more on Acid Rain in our area]
  • New acid-rain funds set for lake reclamation ALBANY — A new $400,000 grant program will help reclaim Adirondack waterways damaged by acid rain. The Adirondack Acid Rain Recovery program was announced recently by Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman in an agreement with the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency. LAWSUIT SETTLEMENT The money comes from a settlement in civil litigation brought against Cinergy Corp. (now Duke Energy Corp.) in 2010 and targets programs designed to restore lakes and streams. (January 22, 2013) Press Republican [more on Acid Rain in our area]
  • A.G. Schneiderman Creates $400,000 Grant Program To Help Reclaim Acid Rain-Damaged Waters Of The Adirondacks The Adirondack Acid Rain Recovery Program Will Fund New Approaches To Reversing Legacy Of Acid Rain Pollution That Effects Hundreds of Adirondack Waterbodies Schneiderman: Program Will Help Restore The Adirondacks For Future Generations Of New Yorkers ALBANY ‑ Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the creation of a $400,000 grant program to fund projects aimed at restoring hundreds of lakes and streams in the Adirondacks still suffering the damages of acid rain pollution. By investing in scientific solutions, the Adirondack Acid Rain Recovery Program will help identify the most efficient and effective approaches to reversing acid rain's continuing harms to the Adirondack environment. (January 18, 2013) NYS Attorney General



  • Adirondack Council Urges EPA to quickly finalize new “Transport Rule” to address acid rain PHILADELPHIA, PA  - The Adirondack Council today called on the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finalize as quickly as possible its proposed “Transport Rule” to curb the acid rain and high-elevation smog that afflicts the largest park in the contiguous United States – Upstate New York’s 9,300-square-mile Adirondack Park. The Adirondack Council has been a national leader in the fight against acid rain since the mid-1970s.  The newly proposed Clean Air Transport Rule would sharply reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX) from power plants, from the District of Columbia and all 31 states east of the Rocky Mountains.  The cuts are due to occur between next spring, when the rule is expected to become final, and 2014, when the cuts would be complete.  (August 27, 2010) New York State News on the Net!
  • 12/20/2010: EPA Delivers 15 Years of Acid Rain Reductions "WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report that shows 15 years of successful results from its nationwide effort to address acid rain. Since its inception in 1995 as part of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, EPA’s Acid Rain Program has earned widespread acclaim due to dramatic sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX) emission reductions that are saving American lives and ecosystems. An analysis estimates annual public health benefits of the program in 2010 alone at more than $120 billion, about 40 times the estimated cost. " US Environmental Protection Agency



  • STATES SUE OWNERS OF THREE PENNSYLVANIA COAL PLANTS Clean Air Cases Orphaned by Bush Administration Pursued by States Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Maryland and New Jersey today filed a federal lawsuit, charging that the corporate owners of three large coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania have violated the Clean Air Act. Some of the plants have been operating since the 1950's with inadequate air pollution controls.  The power plants are owned by Allegheny Energy, Inc. and its subsidiaries. While major upgrades have been made to improve the plants’ power-producing capacity, their owners failed to install modern pollution controls as required by law. As a result, the plants emit thousands of tons of air pollution each year. That pollution causes smog and acid rain in Pennsylvania communities and nearby downwind states. (June 2005) Office of New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer
  • The EPA Acid Rain Program 2004 Progress Report In 1990, Congress established the Acid Rain Program under the Clean Air Act. The principal goal of the program is to achieve reductions of 10 million tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and 2 million tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx), the primary components of acid rain. These pollutants, in their various forms, lead to the acidification of lakes and streams rendering some of them incapable of supporting aquatic life. In addition, they impair visibility in our national parks, create respiratory and other health problems in people, weaken forests, and degrade monuments and buildings.


  • Buffalo News - Study finds pollutants have risen in WNY Discharges of sulfur dioxide - a major component of acid rain - from coal-fired power plants has increased in New York State, and Erie, Niagara and Chautauqua counties still have serious ozone problems that contribute to asthma, according to a report issued Thursday by clean-air activists. While release of this corrosive pollutant has grown in the past five years, the report said, releases of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide are down. New York State ranked second highest nationally in the increase of sulfur dioxide discharges, lofting 51,600 more tons, an additional 27 percent, into the air in 2000 than in 1995. (April 5, 2002)
  • Spitzer pans Bush acid-rain plan PLATTSBURGH — New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer joined the ranks of those criticizing President George Bush’s proposed plan to address acid-rain producers. Spitzer, a Democrat, said the plan the president touted during Monday’s visit to the acid-rain-damaged Adirondacks, actually sets back legislation that is already on the books to reduce the amount of emissions put out by power plants in the Midwest, which are the main cause of acid rain. (April 24, 2002) Press-Republican Online Home Page


  • Stronger Emissions Regulations Eyed In New York Albany, NY - The Pataki administration is reviewing new regulations that would require state power plants to cut emissions in half by 2008 to help reduce acid rain. (7/02/01) 
  • Acid rain measure would cap emissions New York lawmakers introduce bill despite Bush flip-flop on issue WASHINGTON -- New York lawmakers introduced legislation Thursday to curb carbon dioxide emissions despite President Bush backing away from his earlier campaign pledge to support such a plan. (March 18, 2001)  Times Union.
  • Governor to ease air quality deadline More time needed for electric utilities to qualify for tougher emissions standards, industry says ALBANY -- Electric-generating utilities in New York state would get an extra year to start complying with new reductions in acid rain-causing emissions under a draft of regulations released Monday by the Pataki administration. (Tuesday, June 12, 2001) Times Union
  • DEC Initiates Regulations to Reduce Acid Rain in New York Proposal to Undergo Public Review Before Completion New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin M. Crotty today announced draft regulations that will require New York's electric generators to significantly reduce emissions of acid-rain causing pollutants in an effort to protect the State's sensitive natural resources, particularly in the Adirondacks, from the effects of acid rain. (Wednesday, June 13, 2001) NYS DEC
  • Pataki ready to act on acid rain law ALBANY -- The Pataki administration Monday announced regulations to curb acid rain -- 20 months after the governor promised to rein in pollutants killing Adirondacks lakes. It would give New York the toughest regulations in the country on sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, the principal components of acid rain, according to the state Environmental Conservation commissioner. (Tuesday, June 12, 2001) The Ithaca Journal
  • Study: Acid Rain Damage Continues - Cuts in power plant emissions have not done enough to reduce acid rain damage in the Northeast, an environmental research group says.  (March 27, 2001) WASHINGTON (AP) 
  • Pataki: Reduce acid rain sources ALBANY - Power generators across New York state would be required to further reduce emissions of acid rain-causing pollutants under a draft of regulations released by Gov. George Pataki on Thursday. The new rules would mandate coal-fired power plants to cut sulfur dioxide emissions to 50 percent of the levels allowed under the Clean Air Act, or by an extra 130,000 tons per year. (Saturday, February 16, 2002) Gazette Front Page
  • Acid rain measure moves forward A House-Senate conference committee has accepted an energy provision sponsored by U.S. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-New Hartford, requiring federal clean coal research projects to actually show reductions of emissions that cause acid rain. (September 16, 2002) :: The meeting place and marketplace of the Mohawk Valley
  • Environmentalists find hope in study SU professor's research on acid rain's effects seen as evidence for tighter controls. Advocates for tighter limits on air pollution believe a new report on the effects of acid rain could help their chances in Congress. (March 28, 2001) 
  • Acid Rain Pollution Rose 4 Percent in 2003 -  WASHINGTON — Emissions of sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain, rose 4 percent in 2003, but probably will not compromise long-term air quality goals according to a study by the Environmental Protection Agency.  Coal-fired power plants were the main source of the 10.6 million tons of sulfur dioxide. That total compared with 10.2 million tons in 2002 and reverted to the level from 2001. --
  • Acid rain measure would cap emissions New York lawmakers introduce bill despite Bush flip-flop on issue WASHINGTON -- New York lawmakers introduced legislation Thursday to curb carbon dioxide emissions despite President Bush backing away from his earlier campaign pledge to support such a plan. (March 18, 2001)  Times Union.
  • Advocate eyes federal acid-rain legislation  ALBANY — A New York congressman leading the battle against acid rain said that despite weakening opposition and White House support, it may be some time before Congress passes legislation that cuts the environmentally damaging pollution. "The good news is the president has endorsed the House bill, and prior to Sept. 11, I thought this was the Congress when we could get something done," said Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, the Utica-area Republican who is sponsoring legislation to slash sulfur-dioxide, nitrogen-oxide and mercury emissions. (Thursday, October 4, 2001) Press Republican Online
  • Region's acid rain recovery goes slow SU professor who led study says some lakes, forests may need 70 years to come back.  (Tuesday, March 27, 2001) Syracuse Online


  • Acid rain bill to get new life Schumer says chances for measure's passage are getting better LAKE PLEASANT -- A federal bill that would mandate deep national cuts in the pollution that causes acid rain will be introduced the first day a new Congress meets next year, Sen. Charles Schumer said Friday. (December 2, 2000) Times Union. 
  • SECOND MAJOR UTILITY AGREES TO CUT ACID RAIN EMISSIONS Ten Midwest Power Plants Will Dramatically Reduce Levels of Toxic Pollution Under Agreement Negotiated by Spitzer and Feds.  Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and federal officials today announced that one of the nation’s largest electric utility companies has agreed to slash pollution levels at 10 Midwest power plants that cause acid rain and smog in New York.-- (December 22, 2000) Office of NYS Attorney General Eliot Spitzer 
  • Acid Rain Researchers Find the Northeast is Not Recovering On Monday, scientists will announce the results of the most comprehensive study done on acid rain since the Clean Air Act was amended in 1990 to reduce emissions that cause the problem. But the 10 leading researchers in the field who came together for this study found that power plant emissions would have to be cut substantially more to allow Northeast lakes, streams and forests to recover within 25 to 50 years. At 9:30 on Monday at the National Press Club in Washington, the scientists will release their report. Embargoed copies are available before then from EMS and the study will be posted on Monday morning.