11 Environs 1 (1987)

handle is hein.journals/environs11 and id is 1 raw text is: UCD School of Law                                                         Vol. 11 No. 1/2
Environmental Law School                                                       June 1987

the Canary --
Acid Rain
in California
By Kathy A. Tonnessen
In the early days of the
industry, coal miners would
bring canaries with them when
working underground. The
birds served to warn the men of
the build-up of colorless and
odorless toxic gases that could
cause sudden death.
An analogy can be
made between coal mines and
acid rain (and other forms of
acid deposition: snow, mist, fog
and dry gases and particles).
The lakes, forests and soils of
the Sierra Nevada and other
mountainous regions in Cali-
fornia are the sensitive canaries
that will show the first signs of
Continued on Page Two


By Stephen P. Winslow
Early air pollution con-
trol efforts resulted in an inad-
vertant backward step which
aggrevated the acid deposition
problem. In the 1960s and early
1970s local governments and
Congress mainly viewed air
pollution as an urban health
hazard. Local ordinances and
the Clean Air Act Amendments
of 1970 (the 1970 Act) focussed
on reducing ambient concen-
trations of air pollutants in ur-
ban areas. Local efforts to re-
duce ambient concentrations
resulted in schemes to disperse
pollutants rather than reduce
emissions. Industry and utili-
ties constructed tall emission
stacks to disperse pollutants in
lieu of bona-fide pollution re-

duction devices. Tall stacks
increased the ability acid depo-
sition to carry into mountain
areas and across the long dis-
tances of North America.
In the early 1970s scien-
tific studies from throughout the
world revealed the effects of
acid deposition on forests and
lakes. In West Germany, fir
trees began to yellow and lose
their needles. Today, over one-
third of West German forests
show some sign of damage. The
term waldersteben, literally
translated as forest death, is
now    a  household    word.
Czechoslovakia, the Nether-
lands, France, Italy, Romania,
Sweden and the Soviet Union
have also reported forest dam-
Continued on Page Six

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