By Nichelle Pulliam

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Title IV of these amendments established the Acid Rain Program, a cap and trade system designed to control emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Title IV called for a total reduction of about 10 million tons of SO2 emissions from power plants. It was implemented in two phases. 7 million tons of sulfur dioxide. One power plant in New England (Merrimack) was in Phase I. Four other plants (Newington, Mount Tom, Brayton Point, and Salem Harbor) were added under other provisions of the program.

E. elevated levels of hydrogen ions (low pH). It can have harmful effects on plants, aquatic animals, and infrastructure through the process of wet deposition. Acid rain is caused by emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides which react with the water molecules in the atmosphere to produce acids. Governments have made efforts since the 1970s to reduce the release of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere with positive results. However, it can also be caused naturally by the splitting of nitrogen compounds by the energy produced by lightning strikes, or the release of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere by volcano eruptions.

In New York State, winds bring mercury from the coal-fired power plants of the Midwest, contaminating the waters of the Catskill Mountains. The mercury is consumed by worms, who are eaten by fish, and then by birds, including bald eagles. As of 2008, mercury contamination of bald eagles in the Catskills had reached new heights. Ocean fish account for the majority of human exposure to methylmercury; the sources of ocean fish methylmercury are not well understood. Coal-fired power plants shorten nearly 24,000 lives a year in the United States, including 2,800 from lung cancer.

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