Acid rain help included in federal legislation

McHugh organized members of the House of Representatives to request that the Clean Air Status and Trends Network (CASTNET), Temporary Integrated Monitoring of Ecosystems (TIME), and Long-Term Monitoring (LTM) programs continue to receive their historic levels of funding of $3.9 million for CASTNET and $800,000 combined for TIME/LTM. The Committee on Appropriations allotted $3,951,000 in funding for CASTNET and $720,000 combined for TIME/LTM in the FY 2009 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill. Additionally, unlike last year, the bill specifically appropriates funds for these programs.

Acid rain, which is principally caused by nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), destroys forests, kills fish, and poisons water. Furthermore, scientific studies have identified a relationship between the elevated levels of the fine particles that cause acid rain and increased illness and premature death from heart and lung disorders, such as asthma and bronchitis. Established in 1987, CASTNET is the nation's primary source for atmospheric data on dry acidic deposition, rural ground-level ozone and other forms of atmospheric pollution that enter the environment as particles and gases, such as mercury. Currently, the CASTNET program is at 86 sites in over 40 states, including three sites in New York.

TIME and LTM are the only extensive networks in the Eastern United States that evaluate the status and potential recovery of sensitive ecosystems, which are particularly vulnerable to further damage from acid rain. However, the Administration's current Fiscal Year 2009 budget proposes to eliminate these critical programs, Catskill Parks.

The Omnibus Appropriations legislation will now be sent to the Senate and then the president for approval.

For more information on acid rain in the Adirondacks, contact John Sheehan with the Adirondack Council at 432-1770.

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