Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the Canada-United States Report on Acid Rain

March 19, 1986

The President and Prime Minister Mulroney commissioned Drew Lewis and William Davis last year in Quebec City to conduct a thorough study of the acid rain problem and to submit their findings and recommendations within 1 year. This report was presented to the President and the Prime Minister on January 8, 1986. After careful review, the President endorses fully the joint report of the Special Envoys.

As stated in the report, acid rain is a serious environmental problem in both the United States and Canada with transboundary implications for both countries. The United States pioneered air pollution controls and as a nation has spent approximately $75 billion since the 1970 passage of the Clean Air Act to limit emissions of pollutants identified as precursors of acid rain. By 1990 approximately $100 billion will have been spent for this purpose. As a result of these actions, from 1973 to 1983 emissions of major precursors have declined significantly. However, as the joint report notes, more needs to be done. This administration has already provided substantial support for clean coal technologies. For fiscal year 1981 through FY 1985, a total of almost $2.2 billion in total research funds has been allocated in the United States to develop technologies for cleaner utilization of coal.

In order to expand the control options available to industry, as recommended in the joint report, the administration will pursue a program to develop and demonstrate innovative control technologies. In this year's budget $700 million has been earmarked for clean coal research between FY 1986 and FY 1991. In addition an $800 million joint industry/government program designed to develop and demonstrate clean ways to burn coal will be implemented. Although it does not now have all of the funds, the administration will seek to provide in the future the funding recommended in the joint report. We will also encourage States to undertake similar efforts, as several have already done.

The President will also direct Federal departments and agencies to take the following steps in order to implement the cooperative activities and research recommendations of the Special Envoys:

-- Identify and assess cost-effective and innovative approaches leading to reduced emissions of pollutants linked to acid rain.

-- Strengthen bilateral consultation and information exchanges with Canada. To this end, the Secretary of State shall establish an interagency advisory and consultative group on transboundary air pollution comprised of both foreign affairs and environmental management officials to provide advice to the President and to serve as a forum for discussion with a similarly constituted Canadian group.

-- Conduct a coordinated interagency review of relevant research in light of the joint envoys' report. In this regard, the administration has requested $85 million for FY 1987 to assess the causes, effects, and possible methods of mitigating the results of acid rain. (Since 1982 the administration has spent $255 million for this purpose. Under current plans an additional $225 million will be spent between now and 1989.)

The issue of acid rain will be a continuing item on the agenda of future summit meetings.

Note: Larry M. Speakes read the statement to reporters at 1:40 p.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.