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Green group looks to reduce emissions in Ohio River Valley

The Adirondack Council has taken ownership of almost 2,000 tons of emissions allowances that would otherwise go to coal-fired power plants, which are largely located in the Ohio River Valley.

The green group announced late last week that it had acquired 1,925 tons of Sulfur dioxide allowances.

Part of the federal cap-and-trade emissions policy, the allowances had been forfeited by J.M. Stuart Generation facility in Dayton, Ohio after the company refused to comply with more restrictive Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

The allowances - which became available as part of a 2008 settlement agreement between the power company and the Sierra Club - will be permanently retired by the council.

Brian Houseal is the green group's executive director. He said that although the plant is hundreds of miles away, the impacts of green house gases are very much an Adirondack issue.

"The Adirondack Park is the largest American park outside of Alaska. It contains the world's largest, intact deciduous forest, thousands of lakes and ponds and more than 30,000 miles of rivers, brooks and streams," Houseal said. "It has suffered the worst damage from acid rain of any region of the U.S."

State regulators have blamed the ever-increasing acidification of Adirondack waterways on coal-burning power plants, primarily in the Ohio River Valley.

Houseal says cap-and-trade policy appears to be working.

"Adirondack water chemistry is beginning to return to normal after a century of constant punishment," Houseal said. "Once our soil and water chemistry returns to balance, we will see a biological recovery as many of our native plants and animals return to their native ranges."

Under cap-and-trade, the EPA issues allowable amounts to emissions-generating plants; plants that emit less than what is allowed can sell the surplus on the open market.

To date, the region's most influential green group has permanently retired over 10,000 tons of green house gas allowances.

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