Sulfur Dioxide Emissions Decreased Last Year

When it comes to the environment, any good news is welcomed. Thankfully, there is a bit of good news these days when it comes to sulfur dioxide emissions (SOx). During the first half of 2008, SOx emissions from U.S. power plants dropped c24 percent, according to Genscape, who attributes the reduction to the electricity industry preparing for stricter regulations next year. Nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions decreased five percent in May and eleven percent in June, mainly because of the recession.

"The industry is clearly going through a dress rehearsal for the implementation of the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) in 2010, and judging by allowance prices as well as the fundamental data, it is a stellar performance," Genscape said. “Most of the decline in sulfur emissions is not due to the recession or even to the switch from high-sulfur coal to lower sulfur grades and to gas. It makes sense to start cutting emissions early if the equipment is in place… The challenge for producers is to maintain discipline even as the economy recovers.”

Industrial emissions elevate levels of sulfur dioxide, which are then absorbed into plants and soils, captured below and within clouds, and then cause acid rain. According to Greg Lawrence, a water scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey, acid rain and climate change are “closely associated.” Lawrence believes acid rain need to be studied with climate change.

Even low concentrations of sulfur dioxide can harm plants and trees and reduce crop productivity. Higher levels, and especially the acidic deposits from acid rain, will adversely affect both land and water ecosystems,” according to Australia’s National Pollutant Inventory.


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