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No smoking gun : roles of scientific evidence, advocacy, and political interests linking smelter emission with acid rain in the western United States, 1979-1987

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Title:
No smoking gun : roles of scientific evidence, advocacy, and political interests linking smelter emission with acid rain in the western United States, 1979-1987
Creator:
Zuboy, Jarett
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
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Language:
English

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Degree:
Master's ( Master of arts)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
Department of History, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
History
Committee Chair:
Whitesides, John
Committee Members:
Laird, Pamela W.
Stahl, Dale J.

Notes

Abstract:
This study explores the controversy over copper smelters and acid rain in the western United States between 1979 and 1987. The results suggest that a combination of scientific evidence, advocacy, and political interests persuaded numerous key stakeholders that southwestern smelters contributed to acid rain in distant areas across the West. These three elements of persuasion (evidence, advocacy, and interests) were inseparably intertwined, but interests played the most important role. Environmental non-governmental organizations produced peer-reviewed scientific research and a scientific synthesis linking the smelters with acid rain, and they publicized this evidence effectively. At the same time, industrial groups attacked the evidence of a link and the credibility of the environmental groups, while federal government agencies emphasized the uncertainty surrounding the issue. Influential western stakeholders had ample opportunity to reject the link on these grounds. However, few chose to do so. Even many political leaders in Arizona—where the highest-emitting U.S. smelter was located—accepted the smelter and acid rain link, which says more about their political interests than about an ironclad scientific case or overwhelming advocacy.

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University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
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Copyright Jarett Zuboy. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

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Full Text
NO SMOKING GUN: ROLES OF SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE, ADVOCACY, AND
POLITICAL INTERESTS IN LINKING SMELTER EMISSIONS WITH ACID RAIN IN THE WESTERN UNITED STATES, 1979-1987
by
JARETT ZUBOY
B.S., Colorado State University, 1997
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts History Program
2018


©2018
JARETT ZUBOY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
11


This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by
Jarett Zuboy
has been approved for the
History Program by
John Whitesides, Chair Pamela W. Laird Dale J. Stahl
Date: December 15, 2018


Zuboy, Jarett (MA, History)
No Smoking Gun: Roles of Scientific Evidence, Advocacy, and Political Interests in Linking Smelter Emissions with Acid Rain in the Western United States, 1979-1987
Thesis directed by Assistant Professor John Whitesides
ABSTRACT
This study explores the controversy over copper smelters and acid rain in the western United States between 1979 and 1987. The results suggest that a combination of scientific evidence, advocacy, and political interests persuaded numerous key stakeholders that southwestern smelters contributed to acid rain in distant areas across the West. These three elements of persuasion (evidence, advocacy, and interests) were inseparably intertwined, but interests played the most important role. Environmental non-governmental organizations produced peer-reviewed scientific research and a scientific synthesis linking the smelters with acid rain, and they publicized this evidence effectively. At the same time, industrial groups attacked the evidence of a link and the credibility of the environmental groups, while federal government agencies emphasized the uncertainty surrounding the issue. Influential western stakeholders had ample opportunity to reject the link on these grounds. However, few chose to do so. Even many political leaders in Arizona—where the highest-emitting U.S. smelter was located—accepted the smelter and acid rain link, which says more about their political interests than about an ironclad scientific case or overwhelming advocacy.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.
Approved: John Whitesides
IV


DEDICATION
I thank my committee for their support. Greg, I could not have had a better thesis advisor. You stuck with me when it seemed I would never pick a topic much less complete the work—and you spurred me to useful action whenever I became mired in rumination. I value your teaching and all of our fun, wide-ranging conversations. I also appreciate your unflagging enthusiasm for history, especially environmental history. I’m rooting for the mountain lion too! Pam, literally from day one (oh so many years ago) you have been a great mentor to me at CU Denver. As you note in Pull, the benefits of mentorship include education, guidance, moral support, inspiration, an example to follow, and access to otherwise invisible opportunities. Thank you for giving me all these and more. And thank you for bringing me into your own work, from which I have learned so much. Dale, I appreciate your contributions both to my comprehensive exam committee and my thesis committee. You have always provided unique, thoughtful, and important perspectives. I wish our times at CU Denver had overlapped more.
I also thank my parents, Jim and Joan, although I cannot express how much you have done for me. Besides endless love and support, you have given me everything I need to succeed in the historical context to which I was bom. I am eternally grateful.
Finally, I thank my wife Julie. You are the love of my life and my best friend. You understand my ways and know how to be there for me. You are also my inspiration, challenging yourself every day to reach the highest standards of excellence and integrity. I could not have done this without you.
v


CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I. INTRODUCTION........................................................1
II. HISTORICAL CONTEXT..................................................5
Acid Rain Awakening.................................................5
Environmentalism and U.S. Environmental Policy......................8
U.S. Acid Rain Politics in the 1980s...................................12
Smelter Pollution and the West.........................................16
Scale, Damage, and Vulnerability in the Western Acid Rain Debate.......21
III. LINKING SMELTERS WITH WESTERN ACID RAIN: FROM UNCERTAIN
SCIENTISTS TO CONVINCED POLICYMAKERS, 1979-1987........................23
Early Lack of Scientific Evidence Drove Uncertainty....................23
Preexisting Knowledge Helped Link Smelters with Acid Rain.......29
EDF and WRI Provided Evidence about Smelters and Acid Rain in the West.35
Effective Advocacy Brought EDF and WRI’s Evidence into the Mainstream..43
The Mexican Smelter Threat Changed U.S. Interests and Beliefs Related to Acid Rain...............................................................46
Federal Agencies Emphasized Scientific Uncertainty.................52
Industry Stakeholders Failed to Derail the Acid Rain Narrative.........54
State and Federal Policymakers Acted as Audiences and Advocates....60
Acid Rain Concerns Contributed to the Control of U.S. and Mexican Smelters... 65
vi


IV. CONCLUSIONS
69
BIBLIOGRAPHY
80
Vll


ABBREVIATIONS
CLRTAP Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution
EDF Environmental Defense Fund
EPA U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
NAAQS national ambient air quality standards
NOx nitrogen oxides
NSO non-ferrous smelter order
SIP state implementation plan
S02 sulfur dioxide
USGS U.S. Geological Survey
WRC Western Regional Council
WRI World Resources Institute
vm


CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
Acid rain was a major North American environmental controversy during the 1980s.1 The basic story related to the eastern half of the continent is now relatively well known. Acid-forming air pollution emanated from industrial operations—particularly from coal-fired power plants in the U.S. Midwest—traveled long distances through the atmosphere, precipitated in the U.S. Northeast and Canada, and damaged or threatened vulnerable ecosystems. Yet at the time various stakeholders doubted every aspect of this narrative. A seemingly scientific question became political dynamite, pitting U.S. regions against each other, Canada against the United States, environmentalists against industrial interests, and the Executive Branch against Congress. Scientists became embroiled in advocacy and policy debates, leading some observers to question whether the entire scientific enterprise had been corrupted. When U.S. legislation to reduce acid-forming pollution emerged, it was almost a decade after prestigious scientists and scientific organizations began recommending such a policy.2
Less well known is the acid rain story that unfolded on the western side of the continent. In 1979, scientists were surprised to discover evidence of acid rain in Colorado’s mountains, and at first they could only speculate about its source. As various source candidates emerged over time, the media, policymakers, and interest groups singled out the
1 For brevity, the term “acid rain” is used throughout this study to encompass acidic inputs deposited via rain, snow, fog, or dry deposition, unless otherwise specified.
2 Leslie R. Aim, Crossing Borders, Crossing Boundaries: The Role of Scientists in the U.S. Acid Rain Debate (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2000), 114-115.
1


most potent likely culprit: copper smelters in the southwestern United States and Sonora, Mexico. Yet many scientific questions remained. Acid rain monitoring and research in the West were extremely limited compared with the monitoring and research in the East. Environmental groups and industry groups rushed to fill the voids in the narrative with their own evidence and advocacy. National and state policymakers joined the debate, which also became internationalized when Mexico announced plans to build a large new smelter without emissions controls near the Arizona border. After several years of controversy, the largest uncontrolled smelter in the United States closed in 1987, and the new Mexican smelter installed controls a year later. Interest in the western acid rain issue declined rapidly thereafter.
This study explores the history of smelters and acid rain in the West between 1979 and 1987. Specifically, it analyzes the evolving interactions among scientific evidence, advocacy, political interests, beliefs, and actions connecting the smelters with acid rain falling on distant areas across the West. The story of the southwestern smelters is large and multifaceted, and this study expands on two previous analyses of the topic. John Wirth employs a political focus to compare the late twentieth-century conflict over the southwestern smelters with the early twentieth-century conflict over the Trail smelter in British Columbia.3 Stephanie Capaldo uses a cultural lens to examine the smelter-related environmental debates across the U.S.-Mexican border, including the changing conceptions
3 John D. Wirth, Smelter Smoke in North America: The Politics of Transborder Pollution (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2000).
2


of industry and nature in the area.4 Both studies address the linkage between the smelters and acid rain, but neither details the process by which this linkage was discovered, debated, and resolved. The present study provides that angle while building on the rich histories developed by Wirth and Capaldo.
The study draws heavily on regional and national media sources as well as Congressional hearing transcripts and scientific reports from interest groups. Thus the history portrayed is primarily from the perspective of the popular media, decision makers, high-profile scientists, and interest groups. Although some insights from the Arizona media are drawn from the histories by Wirth and Capaldo, the only comprehensive state-based media source used is Colorado’s Denver Post. High Country News provides a regional, environmentally leaning perspective, and the New York Times provides a national perspective (although, perhaps significantly, New York and surrounding states were enmeshed in their own acid rain controversy at the time).
The study suggests that a combination of evidence, advocacy, and interests persuaded numerous key stakeholders that southwestern smelters contributed to acid rain in distant areas across the West. These three elements of persuasion (evidence, advocacy, and interests) were inseparably intertwined, but interests played the most important role. Environmental non-governmental organizations produced peer-reviewed scientific research and a scientific synthesis linking the smelters with acid rain, and they publicized this evidence effectively. At the same time, industrial groups attacked the evidence of a link and the credibility of the
4 Stephanie Capaldo, “Smoke and Mirrors: Smelter Pollution and the Cultural Construction of Environmental Narratives on the U S.-Mexico Border, 1970-1988” (PhD diss., University of Arizona, 2013).
3


environmental groups, while federal government agencies emphasized the uncertainty surrounding the issue. Influential western stakeholders had ample opportunity to reject the link on these grounds. However, few chose to do so. Even many political leaders in Arizona—where the highest-emitting U.S. smelter was located—accepted the smelter and acid rain link, which says more about their political interests than about an ironclad scientific case or overwhelming advocacy.
In the remainder of this study, Chapter II provides context for understanding the broader histories of acid rain, environmentalism, U.S. environmental policy, acid rain politics in the 1980s, the southwestern smelter industry, and other aspects of the western acid rain debate. Chapter III contains historical analysis arranged broadly chronologically—starting in 1979 and ending in 1987—and by theme and stakeholder to highlight the roles of various groups and to differentiate the effects of evidence, advocacy, and interests. Chapter IV offers conclusions and provides an epilogue related to smelters and acid rain in the West.
4


CHAPTER II
HISTORICAL CONTEXT
Acid Rain Awakening
Scientists first sounded the alarm about acid rain in the Rocky Mountains in the late 1970s, but the recorded history of acid rain goes back much further. Europeans knew about naturally occurring acid rain during the Renaissance, and observers in the British Midlands and central Germany recognized that anthropogenic pollution caused acid rain in the nineteenth century.5
European scientists spearheaded the development of acid deposition science between 1850 and 1967. England’s Robert Angus Smith was at the forefront of this work, creating a basic acid deposition model in the mid-1800s and coining the term “acid rain” in 1872. Although European scientists continued to research the issue over the next century, it was not until 1967 that Swedish soil scientist Svante Oden published “the first integrated scientific picture of a long-range, transboundary, multiple-impact acid deposition problem,” according to international studies scholar Kenneth Wilkening. Oden and other scientists who supported his work also publicized the issue and warned about the threat of transboundary acid rain, particularly to Scandinavia’s lakes and forests.6
5 Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2010), 66-67.
6 Kenneth E. Wilkening, “Localizing Universal Science: Acid Rain Science and Policy in Europe, North America, and East Asia,” in Science and Politics in the International Environment, ed. Neil E. Harrison and Gary C. Bryner (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004), 214-215.
5


The ensuing acid rain debate catalyzed Sweden to propose what became the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, where Swedish scientists presented a synthesis of acid rain knowledge.7 However, the United Kingdom and West Germany—which Oden and colleagues identified as the primary sources of transboundary acidifying pollution in Scandinavia—resisted immediate action owing to a lack of scientific consensus or perceived domestic benefits. Nevertheless, calls by Norway, Sweden, and the USSR (as part of its detente strategy) for a transboundary pollution convention eventually led to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP). Developed under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, CLRTAP was the “first internationally binding agreement to deal with air pollution at a broad, regional level,” according to political scientist Miranda Schreurs.8 Scheduled to come into effect in 1983, CLRTAP called for economically feasible emission reductions, monitoring, reporting, and research, but it was essentially toothless. Signers included all major Western European states, the USSR and many of its satellites, the European Community, Canada, and the United States. Little immediate action resulted.9
The year CLRTAP was signed was also a major year for publicity about acid rain in the United States. In 1979 biologist Gene Likens and colleagues presented the causes and effects of North American acid rain in Scientific American, a magazine known for explaining
7 Wilkening, “Localizing Universal,” 215-216; Miranda A. Schreurs, “The Politics of Acid Rain in Europe,” in Acid in the Environment: Lessons Learned and Future Prospects, ed. Gerald R. Visgilio and Diana M. Whitelaw (New York: Springer, 2007), 119.
8 Schreurs, “Politics of Acid Rain,” 134.
9 Ibid.
6


established science to the general public. The magazine editors’ brief introduction to the article summarized its content: “In recent decades, the acidity of rain and snow has increased sharply over wide areas. The principal cause is the release of sulfur and nitrogen by the burning of fossil fuels.”10
The article’s confident claims resulted from years of study centered on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in central New Hampshire. Research on the local effects of acid rain in North America had been conducted during the first half of the twentieth century, particularly in relation to British Columbia’s Trail smelter and Ontario’s Sudbury smelters. The identification of a regional acid rain problem, however, relied on the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem study started in 1963 by U.S. Forest Service scientist Robert Pierce, biology professor F. Herbert Bormann, geologist Noye Johnson, and Gene Likens. These scientists observed acidic precipitation at Hubbard Brook but initially assumed only a localized effect. After Likens traveled to Sweden in the late 1960s and talked with Oden and others, however, he suspected Hubbard Brook was part of a regional acid rain problem in North America. Likens and his colleagues confirmed the regional scale of the problem by taking precipitation chemistry measurements in central New York and gathering all previous measurements from throughout the United States. In 1972 the team warned in the “semi-popular scientific journal” Environment that North America faced an acid rain threat similar to Europe’s. A 1974 Science article by Likens and Bormann showed acid
10 Scientific American quoted in Oreskes and Conway, Merchants of Doubt, 72-73.
7


precipitation was falling on most of the U.S. Northeast, the problem apparently had existed for decades, and it was associated with the introduction of tall smokestacks in the Midwest.11
Subsequently U.S. and Canadian scientists rapidly expanded North American acid rain research, in communication with European scientists, while raising the issue’s profile in both countries through media and political activities. Political support for research increased, especially after the election of Democrat Jimmy Carter to the U.S. presidency in 1976. The mid-1970s saw the establishment of the Canadian Network for Sampling Precipitation and the U.S. National Atmospheric Deposition Program. By 1980, scientists from both countries had clarified the eastern North American acid deposition problem—not finding the type of widespread ecosystem damage experienced by Scandinavia, but demonstrating such damage was possible.12 Within a few years, “acid rain was all over the front pages of newspapers,” according to historian Stephanie Capaldo.13
Environmentalism and U.S. Environmental Policy
The growing scientific and public awareness of acid rain in the United States coincided with the rise of the modern environmental movement. Many historians note the contribution of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring to spurring this movement.14 Originally
11 Wilkening, “Localizing Universal,” 221-222; Oreskes and Conway, Merchants of Doubt,
66, 68.
12 Wilkening, “Localizing Universal,” 223.
13 Capaldo, “Smoke and Mirrors,” 231.
14 For example, see J.R. McNeill, Something New under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World (New York: Norton, 2000), 337-339; J. Donald Hughes, An Environmental History of the World: Humankind’s Changing Role in the Community of Life
8


published in 1962, Silent Spring examined the pervasive impacts of the pesticide DDT and emphasized the interconnectedness of nature and human society. This ecological perspective became the hallmark of modem environmentalism, differentiating it from earlier environmental efforts focused on preserving particular natural areas. This shift in perspective had important implications for environmental policy and the role of science. Preservationist environmentalism depended on the aesthetic, moral, and recreational values attached to local areas. Ecological environmentalism, in contrast, called for science-based government regulation over wide areas of geography and human activity. Major U.S. executive and legislative initiatives in the late 1960s and early 1970s reflected the shift from preservationist to ecological environmentalism, including creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and passage of the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act,
Clean Air Act, and Clean Water Act—all undertaken under Republican President Richard Nixon.* 15
The Clean Air Act of 1970 had a critical impact on the North American acid rain issue and on the western issue in particular. The act established national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for specific pollutants—such as sulfur dioxide (SO2) and particulates from smelters—and required the development of state implementation plans (SIPs), which were subject to EPA approval. The NAAQS had three elements. The primary standard targeted attainment by 1975 of air-quality levels that protected human health. The secondary
(New York: Routledge, 2009), 193; Ted Steinberg, Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 247-248.
15 Oreskes and Conway, Merchants of Doubt, 67-68; Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 105-106.
9


standard called for achieving air quality that protected public welfare—a designation including broader environmental criteria—within a reasonable period after 1975.16 The nondeterioration standard was meant to guarantee that pollution did not significantly degrade clean air that already surpassed the primary and secondary standards. Under the SIP requirement, states had to establish individual source emission limits, compliance schedules, control technology requirements, and methods for monitoring and enforcement. The EPA could require SIP revisions based on new scientific and engineering knowledge of air pollution.17
The Clean Air Act of 1970 institutionalized the nation’s new environmental values, representing a radical departure from earlier ways of addressing air pollution in the United States. Previously, for example, a smelter business could negotiate a pollution issue through a combination of selectively reducing emissions and making payments to parties directly harmed by the emissions, such as farmers who suffered crop damage. Under the Clean Air Act of 1970, however, such a polluter would be forced to consider public health and welfare criteria in addition to traditional cost-benefit factors. Thus, according to political scientist Helen Ingram, “The pragmatic, functional definition of air quality, restricted to what was economically and technologically feasible, was abandoned, and clean air was legislated a
16 Specifically, the act defined public welfare in relation to “any effects on soils, waters, crops, vegetation, man made materials, animal welfare, weather, visibility and climate, damage to or deterioration of property and hazards to transportation, as well as effects on economic values and on personal comfort and well being.” Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 142.
17 Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 142.
10


fundamental national value.”18 The Clean Air Act also provided for new transparency and participation of the public and nongovernmental organizations in pollution debates.19
Among the pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act of 1970, SO2 and nitrogen oxides (NOx) are particularly relevant to the history of acid rain in the West. SO2 in the atmosphere has resulted primarily from the combustion of fossil fuels by power plants and other industrial facilities and secondarily from industrial processes like metal smelting, natural sources such as volcanoes, and the emissions of heavy vehicles and equipment burning high-sulfur fuels. SO2 has harmful effects on human respiratory health, plant health via gaseous exposure, ecological health via sulfuric acid rain, visibility, and some materials such as those used in statues and monuments. The main sources of atmospheric NOx have included emissions from motor vehicles, power plants, and off-road equipment. Copper smelters produce little NOx.20 NOx harms respiratory health, ecological health via nitric acid rain, visibility, and coastal waters via nutrient pollution. Although various stakeholders argued in the 1980s about the relationships among SO2 and NOx sources, transport, and deposition—especially in relation to acid rain—the scientific basis for the harmful effects of these chemicals had been established before this period.21
18 Quote from Helen Ingram’s 1978 essay, “The Political Rationality of Innovation: The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1970,” as cited in Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 143.
19 Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 105-106, 143.
20 Philip Roth, Charles Blanchard, John Harte, Harvey Michaels, and Mohamed El-Ashry, The American West’s Acid Rain Test (Washington, DC: World Resources Institute, 1985), 23.
21 “Sulfur Dioxide Basics,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, accessed May 4, 2018, https://www.epa.gov/so2-pollution/sulfur-dioxide-basics; “Basic Information about NO2,”
11


U.S. Acid Rain Politics in the 1980s
The story of smelters and acid rain in the West took place in the 1980s, when U.S. environmental ideologies and policies—and the science supporting them—clashed with the new conservatism championed by Republican President Ronald Reagan. As historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway put it, Reagan began to “shift the Republican party away from both environmental preservation and environmental regulation, a position that would separate the party from its historic environmentalism, and put it on a collision course with science.”22 Reagan attempted to roll back many environmental protections and install anti-environment leaders in key positions, such as Ann Gorsuch Burford as EPA administrator and James Watt as secretary of the interior.23
Bolstered by polls showing most Americans supported increased environmental protections, the U.S. Congress resisted some of Reagan’s attacks on the environment, such as by stopping oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Democrats controlled the House of Representatives throughout the 1980s, whereas Republicans controlled the Senate from the beginning of 1981 through the end of 1986. Although Democrats promoted environmental protection more than Republicans did, the partisan divide on environmental issues was not as wide as it would become in subsequent decades,
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, accessed May 4, 2018, https://www.epa.gov/no2-pollution/basic-information-about-no2.
22 Oreskes and Conway, Merchants of Doubt, 67.
23 Benjamin Kline, First Along the River: A Brief History of the U.S. Environmental Movement (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011), 113-128.
12


and some Republican legislators sought solutions to acid rain problems.24 Congress made several unsuccessful attempts in the 1980s to include acid rain protections in an amended Clean Air Act. Such acid rain provisions would not be enacted until the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.25
Although the western acid rain issue had some regional, national, and international significance during the 1980s, the acid rain issue that drove U.S. politics centered on the Midwest and Northeast. Numerous power plants in the Midwest burned high-sulfur coal and emitted enormous amounts of SO2. Based on a 1982 estimate published in the Denver Post, full operation of the copper smelters in the Southwest would produce 1.2 million tons of SO2 annually, compared with annual emissions of 20 to 30 million tons from “the nation’s industrial heartland along the Ohio River Valley.”26 Because of the research of Likens and others, acid rain in the Northeast was well studied, and scientific evidence for the source-receptor relationship between the Midwest and Northeast increased throughout the 1980s. Northeasterners and their representatives pushed for legislation to reduce acid rain. Yet the Reagan administration—backed by the coal and electric power industries—consistently maintained that more research was needed before regulatory action could be taken.
24 For example, see Dan Whipple, “Acid Precipitation: Rain, Rain Go Away,” High Country News, September 17, 1982, 1, 12-13; Ann Schmidt, “Hart Introduces Bill Aimed at Acid Rain,” Denver Post, October 7, 1981, C12.
25 Kline, First Along the River, 113-128; Margaret R. Taylor, Edward S. Rubin, and David A. Hounshell, “Control of SO2 Emissions from Power Plants: A Case of Induced Technological Innovation in the U.S.,” Technological Forecasting & Social Change 72 (2005): 697-718.
26 Jack Cox, “Lobbying Push Expected on West Air-Health Issue,” Denver Post, September 26, 1982, B1,B12.
13


Merchants of Doubt, by Oreskes and Conway, elaborates on the people and strategies behind this high-level questioning of the persuasiveness of acid rain science while linking them to similar efforts used to stall action on atmospheric ozone depletion, the health impacts of tobacco smoke, and climate change.27 High Country News summarized its interpretation of the national acid rain conflict in 1982:
The coal industry notwithstanding, virtually everyone agrees that a reduction in SO2 emissions in the East will reduce the acid precipitation problem. The question is, “How much?” There is no basis for a contention that a certain percentage reduction in SO2 will result in a certain reduction in the acidity of precipitation. The debate then centers around whether the cure is worth the cost. Environmentalists say it is, the utilities and coal industry say it isn’t, and the scientists say they don’t know.28
These battle lines influenced the politics of acid rain throughout the 1980s.
The regional nature of the dispute pitted midwestem and northeastern interests
against each other, with western interests potentially in a swing role. In 1981, for example,
Colorado Governor Dick Lamm proposed that the National Governors’ Association take a
tougher stance toward industrial pollution falling as acid rain on distant areas. In response,
Ohio Governor James Rhodes said he was “sick and tired of people running around talking
about the Ohio River Valley,” and then he went on to deny the seriousness of acid rain, insist
his state’s industrial employment was more important than northeastern fish, and blame
Maine’s pollution on New York and New Jersey. With the outspoken support of West
Virginia Governor Jay Rockefeller, Rhodes killed Lamm’s proposal.29 In another instance,
27 Oreskes and Conway, Merchants of Doubt
28 Whipple, “Acid Precipitation,” 13.
29 Tom Gavin, “Lamm’s Tough Acid Rain Stand Meets Tough Rebuttal by Rhodes,” Denver Post, February 23, 1981, 6.
14


Colorado’s Democratic Senator Gary Hart prominently supported acid rain control legislation while running for president in 1983, which “greatly pleased the environmental movement and Northeasterners” but “risked losing support in the heavily populated Midwest,” according to the Denver Post.30 The West’s large supplies of low-sulfur coal also gave the region an interest in the issue. Some western stakeholders criticized national legislative proposals favoring use of SO2 “scrubbers” on coal plants instead of replacing the plants’ high-sulfur coal with low-sulfur coal, which would hurt high-sulfur coal producers in the Midwest.31
Finally, acid rain in eastern North America had an international dimension as well. In the mid-1970s, scientists showed northeastern Canada suffering substantial acid-induced damage due to emissions from the U.S. Midwest, but the United States received little acidifying pollution from Canada, and it ignored Canadian concerns for much of the 1980s.
In 1982, an environmental conservation professor at the University of New Hampshire called the acid rain issue “the number one current difficulty in U.S.-Canada relations.”32 Canada took action to reduce its own emissions and launched a creative propaganda campaign, attacking U.S. intransigence and “environmental aggression.”33 Yet it took until 1986 for
30 Kenneth T. Walsh, “Acid-Rain Stand: Gamble for Hart,” Denver Post, March 13, 1983, A13.
31 For example, see Denver Post (editorial), “Acid Rain Fight Must Begin,” Denver Post, July 30, 1983, B2.
32 Whipple, “Acid Precipitation,” 1.
33 Don Munton, “Acid Rain Politics in North America: Conflict to Cooperation to Collusion,” in Acid in the Environment: Lessons Learned and Future Prospects, ed. Gerald R. Visgilio and Diana M. Whitelaw (New York: Springer, 2007), 178.
15


Reagan to endorse a $5 billion technology development program aimed at reducing acidifying emissions from coal plants—a move that environmental groups called inadequate.34 The tensions between the United States and Canada also influenced a newer debate about transborder pollution between the United States and Mexico, which revolved around the issue of SO2 from copper smelters.
Smelter Pollution and the West
Rich copper deposits in the southwestern United States and Sonora, Mexico, stimulated growth of a large copper smelting industry in this area beginning around the turn of the twentieth century. In such smelters, heat is applied to copper-bearing ore to extract concentrated copper metal. Because copper ore typically contains large amounts of sulfur, copper smelting can produce substantial SO2 emissions, and the Southwest’s smelters emitted copious amounts of SO2 for decades with little hindrance. The surrounding area was sparsely populated, the copper industry was economically and politically powerful, and no national, state, or local regulations provided a strong check on the environmental impact of the smelters.35
However, with the passage of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1970, “it was clear that the federal government would be cracking down on sulfur dioxide emissions by copper smelters,” according to historian John Wirth. “Smelters that could not meet the new performance standards for SO2 and particulate emissions would have to modernize or shut
34 Gary Schmitz, “Acid Rain Program Gets OK,” Denver Post, March 20, 1986, A14.
35 Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 112-141.
16


down.”36 Subsequently the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977 required development of New Source Performance Standards that would result in continuous control of SO2 emissions—a provision meant to encourage universal use of SO2 “scrubbing” technology, primarily targeting coal-fired power plants.37 In response, copper companies installed scrubbers on many of their southwestern smelters at considerable cost.38
Yet the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977 also provided the smelter industry with a loophole in the SO2 emissions regulations. Copper smelters could apply for non-ferrous smelter orders (NSOs), which temporarily waived the continuous control requirement until January 1983, with the option to apply for a renewed NSO effective through January 1988. Congress added this provision to the 1977 legislation to protect domestic smelters from the effects of falling copper prices and rising foreign competition. The act also required smelters receiving an NSO to attain NAAQS via tall smokestacks and intermittent SO2 controls.39
During the 1980s, the controversy over smelter emissions and NSO extensions came to focus primarily on one particular smelter: the Phelps Dodge operation in Douglas,
Arizona, only six miles from the Mexican border (number 1 on Figure 1). Built mostly in
36 Ibid., 130.
37 Margaret R. Taylor, “The Influence of Government Actions on Innovative Activities in the Development of Environmental Technologies to Control Sulfur Dioxide Emissions from Stationary Sources” (PhD diss., Carnegie Mellon University, 2001), 45-46.
38 Christopher McLeod, “The West is Not Immune to Acid Rain,” High Country News, September 3, 1984, 12-13; Capaldo, “Smoke and Mirrors,” 111; House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 99th Cong., 1st sess., 1985, 17.
39 Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 152.
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1914, the Douglas smelter continued to rely largely on that era’s technology into the 1980s with no SO2 controls or only intermittent controls. After Phelps Dodge sold or closed the nearby mines supplying Douglas with ore in the 1970s and built a Clean Air Act compliant smelter in New Mexico, the Douglas smelter no longer figured in the company’s long-term plan. Yet the smelter was profitable to operate without modem emissions controls. Therefore, “Faced with the threat of government action, the decision was to operate as long as possible without modernizing the plant,” according to Wirth. Phelps Dodge kept the Douglas smelter going via regulatory stalling tactics and litigation. Other Phelps Dodge smelters—as well as the smelters of other companies, particularly the Magma operation at San Manuel (number 2 on Figure 1)—were part of the 1980s local pollution and acid rain debate, but the Douglas smelter became the primary target because it was the largest U.S. emitter and essentially had no controls on its emissions.40
40 Ibid., 106-107, 130, 175.
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Tho Denver Post / Druco Gaut
Figure 1. Southwestern copper smelters and SO2 emissions from the Denver Post, 198241
The regulatory and legislative maneuvers related to waiving the Douglas smelter’s emissions compliance were byzantine. In the early 1980s, legislators including New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici and Arizona Representative Morris Udall, with support from the antiregulation Reagan administration, advocated weakening the Clean Air Act to include extending the NSO waiver option from 1988 to 1993. However, according to Wirth, “the assault on the Clean Air Act crested in 1983 in the face of rising public alarm about acid rain,” and Congress maintained the air standards.41 42 Still the specter of extending the NSO deadline to 1993 persisted.43 When the NSO controversy peaked in 1985 in relation to
41 Jack Cox, “Pollution Sources Unverified,” Denver Post, September 26, 1982, Bl.
42 Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 153.
43 McLeod, “West is Not Immune,” 12-13.
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expanded pollution from Mexican smelters, Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt called it a “very convoluted series of proceedings” and “a very tangled process involving both State and Federal regulations.” He believed Congress needed to clarify the finality of the 1988 NSO deadline, and he reported the Mexican government’s belief that “the January 1, 1988 date is riddled with loopholes.”44 Other stakeholders agreed about the ambiguity of the regulations.45 To simplify the issue for the purposes of the history told here, the January 1988 NSO expiration can be considered the expected status quo option, allowing the Douglas smelter and other non-complying smelters to evade adequate emissions controls until that date. However, the EPA and the State of Arizona had discretion with regard to issuing the NSO and imposing other environmental requirements, and thus they had leverage to negotiate compliance strategies and timelines. An extension of the NSO waiver until 1993 or beyond also remained possible—whether through regulatory loopholes or Congressional action— which would have represented a win for some smelter operations and a loss for environmental interests.46
44 House, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 24, 32; see also Capaldo, “Smoke and Mirrors,” 125-128.
45 Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 99th Cong., 1st sess., 1985, 51, 53.
46 Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 153.
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Scale, Damage, and Vulnerability in the Western Acid Rain Debate
Although smelters are the focus of this study, other aspects of the debate about acid rain in the West evolved simultaneously and interacted with the smelter issue. Kenneth Wilkening identifies four fundamental questions related to applying knowledge about acid rain to a given region:
(1) Does a regional-scale problem exist?
(2) What are the sources of pollution emission (locations, characteristics, temporal trends, etc.)?
(3) What are the source-receptor relationships (what sources deliver what quantities of pollutants to a given receiving location)?
(4) What are the adverse impacts (type, extent, seriousness, etc.)?47
During the 1980s in the West, the issue of smelters—as well as other potential sources of
acid-forming emissions—related to questions two and three. The very existence of a
regional-scale acid rain problem in the West (question one) was another issue, as was the
extent of any damage, especially to alpine lakes and ecosystems in the Rocky Mountains
(question four). As with the smelter debate, certainty about the existence and damage issues
varied over time and by stakeholder, yet by the mid-1980s broad agreement seemed to
emerge. Gary Hart, who chaired a Senate committee hearing about acid rain in the West in
1985, summarized the testimony presented at that hearing:
We have heard from Agency officials and the scientific community that we are today operating under a situation of limited data, that there is some evidence of the presence of acidity in our ecosystems and our environment, but little evidence of current damage. No real picture of where we might be headed if current practices continue.
We have some information but we need more. We need it from the scientific community particularly, and those of us in public positions have to provide the resources for that.48
47 Wilkening, “Localizing Universal,” 213.
48 Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 64-65.
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Hart’s take on the questions of the problem’s existence, the related adverse impacts, and the overall need for more knowledge reflected the emerging consensus in these areas.
Finally, the vulnerability of western alpine ecosystems to damage from acid deposition—even if no damage had yet been confirmed—became perhaps the most widely accepted aspect of the debate. At the 1985 Senate committee hearing, for example, numerous witnesses agreed high-country aquatic systems were sensitive, and none disagreed. “On the question of sensitivity, I think there is relatively little scientific doubt,” said prominent U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) hydrologist John Turk. “Colorado and indeed much of the rest of the Western United States has [alpine] aquatic systems, lakes, streams, which are as sensitive as any that you are likely to find anywhere in the world.” John Malanchuk, acting director of acid rain research and development in the Reagan administration’s skeptical EPA, admitted that “many potentially sensitive watersheds do exist in the Rocky Mountain region. These watersheds contain high elevation lakes with very little acid neutralizing capacity. While no damage to these systems has been measured, it is the general scientific opinion that these watersheds have only a very limited capacity to assimilate acid deposition inputs.” Even Bruce Rockwell, representing the pro-industry Western Regional Council (WRC), conceded that “acid rain research in Western States has identified some isolated surface waters as potentially sensitive.”49 This perception of western alpine ecosystems as sensitive to damage from acid rain played an important role during the 1980s debate about smelter pollution.
49 Ibid., 17, 27,39.
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CHAPTER III
LINKING SMELTERS WITH WESTERN ACID RAIN: FROM UNCERTAIN SCIENTISTS TO CONVINCED POLICYMAKERS, 1979-1987 Early Lack of Scientific Evidence Drove Uncertainty
In the context of a well-established environmental movement, new regulations, and years of acid rain study in Europe and northeastern North America, University of Colorado Boulder biologists reported in 1979 finding a “strong and serious” three-year trend of steadily increasing acidity in rain and snow in the Como Creek area of the Rocky Mountains Front Range.50 Michael Grant, who along with William Lewis led the research team, expressed being “surprised” by the finding, because acid rain “was not thought to be important in the western U.S.” In fact, at that time no other extended study of precipitation acidity had been done anywhere in the western United States. “That is one of the reasons for doing basic research on systems,” Grant said. “You are sometimes surprised by what you find” He noted the potential implications of acid rain in the West, including ecological changes in poorly buffered alpine lakes, slower forest growth rates, accelerated rock weathering, damaged crops, and effects on recreation. If the measured trend continued for a half-dozen years, said Grant, “the results would be disastrous.”51
In the first several years following the discovery of acid rain in the Rockies, scientists proposed various sources for the acidity while emphasizing the scientific uncertainty
50 This area is west of Boulder, Colorado, and east of the Continental Divide.
51 R.H. Ring, “Air Pollution Blamed for Acidity of Water,” Denver Post, June 10, 1979, 35; William M. Lewis and Michael C. Grant, “Acid Precipitation in the Western United States,” Science 207 (1980): 176-177.
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surrounding the source question. In 1979 Michael Grant said nitric acid accounted for the acidifying trend in the Como Creek area. This nitric acid was “put into the air as various nitrogen compounds, almost certainly man-made,” he said. “Auto exhaust is a prime contributor, and other industrial processes where you have combustion of hydrocarbons.” Grant advanced two possible sources of the nitric acid. “The atmospheric transport system may be moving things long distance, say from Los Angeles,” he said. “Or we may be seeing a ‘Denver effect.’ The compounds may be coming from the Denver urban corridor ... upwind and upslope ” The Denver Post article reporting on Grant and Lewis’s discovery mentioned recent EPA efforts to limit SO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants but emphasized that nitric acid, not sulfuric acid, was linked to Como Creek’s increase in acid precipitation.52
After the public announcement of Grant and Lewis’s findings, Grant’s source speculations and uncertainty heavily influenced the reporting about Colorado’s acid rain issue. According to this coverage, either the acidifying pollution originated in Front Range urban areas (circulated in the atmosphere against prevailing surface winds), or it came from dispersed and distant sources. Because nitric acid was driving the increased acidity, mobile sources such as automobiles were a likely culprit. However, the articles made clear that the researchers could not “at present satisfactorily distinguish between the alternative geographic sources,” while noting the need for more study.53
52 Ibid., 35.
53 Quote from Tom Gavin, “Acid Rain Found in Colo. Rockies,” Denver Post, October 6, 1979, 1; also see Denver Post (editorial), “The Patter of (Acid) Rain,” Denver Post, October 21, 1979, 27; Maureen Dempsey, “While Northeast Frets/Acid Rain Wets the West,” High Country News, April 18, 1980, 7, 12.
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These messages reached federal policymakers, at least one of whom judged the evidence persuasive enough to promote legislative action. In October 1979, Grant reported the Como Creek findings to the National Commission on Air Quality, which was assessing whether the Clean Air Act was failing to address problems like acid rain. “With this latest discovery of acid rain in the United States, there is a growing sense that this is a national concern,” said Gary Hart, commission chairman and Democratic senator from Colorado, in response to the findings. “No longer can anyone dismiss acid rain as someone else’s problem.”54 Two years later, Hart and eight other senators introduced legislation requiring the EPA to report to Congress on acid rain in the West as well as requiring reductions in SO2 emissions for states east of the Mississippi. In a meeting of the Senate Environment Committee, Hart said NOx from motor vehicles was the major acid rain source in the Rocky Mountain states, and he called for more acid rain monitoring in the region as well as maintaining NOx emission standards for cars and tightening them for trucks. Kathleen Bennett, assistant EPA administrator, disagreed with calls for immediate action and said more research was needed, noting cost burdens to consumers and uncertain benefits if preemptive action were taken.55
The Denver Post mentioned smelters in relation to acid rain for the first time in November 1981, but scientific opinions related to the source question remained speculative. In addition, the smelters in question were located in Utah, not Arizona, which later became
54 Gavin, “Acid Rain Found,” 1.
55 Schmidt, “Hart Introduces Bill,” C12; Kenneth T. Walsh, “Panel Calls for Action to Control Acid Rain,” Denver Post, October 30, 1981, C15.
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the epicenter of smelter controversy. By this time, scientists had detected acid rain in multiple locations along Colorado’s Front Range and throughout the Western Slope, with the highest levels found in the mountains. The scientists, however, were uncertain about the source. “We just really don’t know what the source is,” said John Harte, a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researcher and leader of a two-year-old acidity study in the mountains between Aspen and Crested Butte. “It could be automobiles in Los Angeles, smelters in Utah or power plants in the Four Corners area, or it might even be Japan, Europe or New York. It might be everybody’s pollution, floating around in the troposphere.”56 Harte said his research team would be checking the correlation between storm patterns and acid deposition to determine whether the Utah smelters or the Four Corners power plants likely were generating the pollution. University of Colorado biologist William Lewis suggested Front Range pollution as the source of declining lake alkalinity that he observed in Front Range lakes. USGS hydrologist John Turk speculated about the effects of lightning-induced NOx formation. Turk called for development of a computer model to predict the amount of acid resulting from a given amount of pollution. Several scientists also disagreed about whether the current evidence justified regulation. Some argued that more evidence was required, whereas others argued that preemptive regulation would be beneficial.57
In September 1982, High Country News, in an article about increased evidence of acid precipitation throughout the Rockies, mentioned the potential importance of smelters as a source but still emphasized the uncertainty about sources. As a general statement, the
56 Jack Cox, “Acid Rain Strongest at Altitude,” Denver Post, November 8, 1981, FI, F3.
57 Cox, “Acid Rain Strongest,” FI, F3. Jack Cox, “Front Range Lakes Turning More Acidic,” Denver Post, November 8, 1981, F3.
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article noted, “Sulfur dioxide is emitted primarily by fossil fuel-burning power plants and NOx primarily by automobiles, though both substances are emitted by both polluters.” The article mentioned various existing and potential sources, including oil shale operations, coal gasification plants, and natural gas processing plants. However, it said, even in the East there is “no conclusive proof’ SO2 emissions from coal plants were causing acid rain. Alan Simpson, a Republican senator from the potentially affected state of Wyoming cited “emissions from smelters in the Southwest and Utah” as sources of the western acid rain problem. High Country News then stated, “In the West, copper smelters are usually blamed for the problem, because they are the largest uncontrolled source of SO2.” However, researcher John Harte again emphasized the uncertainty about sources, noting that the composition of acid rain in the West—with a high ratio of nitric to sulfuric acid—looked more like acid rain in Los Angeles, where automobiles were the primary source, than acid rain in Ohio, where coal was the primary source. He said Los Angeles could not be ruled out as a source, yet the acid rain found in the West also could be caused by coal-fired power plant emissions. In concluding the article stated, “The only thing that is certain is that acid rain is falling.”58
Through 1983, the Denver Post continued to portray substantial scientific uncertainty about the sources of acid rain in the Rockies. According to a May article, “One conclusion emerging from the studies so far” was that precipitation was generally more acidic in southwestern Colorado than in northwestern Colorado, which some observers believed was because of the southwestern part’s closer proximity to the copper smelters and “giant power
58 Whipple, “Acid Precipitation,” 12-13.
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plants” of the desert Southwest. However, an analysis of one southwestern Colorado site showed precipitation typically with more nitrates than sulfates, suggesting motor vehicles may have been more responsible than industrial plants for the acidity. The article also reported a lack of complete scientific understanding about the formation of acid rain in general, but said that “most scientists agree that it offers vivid proof of the adage that what goes up must come down.” In any case, it unequivocally said that acid rain precursors could be carried hundreds or thousands of miles from their sources.59
In June 1983, the Denver Post focused on findings from pioneering University of Colorado researchers Lewis and Grant, who reported acid rain falling on two thirds of Colorado including all the mountain areas. The researchers suggested that about two thirds of the total acidity falling in Colorado might be produced by coal-burning power plants within Colorado and just outside the state in the Four Corners region. They noted the large power plants directly upwind of the areas with highest acidity in the mountains around Steamboat Springs (downwind from a power plant in Craig) and northeast of Durango (downwind from a power plant in Farmington, New Mexico). However, they concluded that the acidification “cannot yet be traced confidently to specific sources within the state,” because it was so widespread. The article briefly noted other researchers suspecting that California auto emissions or worldwide pollution increases were the major causes of acid rain in Colorado.
In addition, it briefly cited Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) atmospheric physicist Michael Oppenheimer claiming that much of the pollution came from neighboring states. Curiously the article did not mention smelters, yet the very next day an article cited concerns
59 Jack Cox, “Acid Rain Watch Maintained: Rocky Mountain Lakes Shown Highly Sensitive,” Denver Post, May 29, 1983, B3, B12.
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by Colorado Representative Tim Wirth about the West’s particular problem with acid rain from increasing automobile use and from smelters in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. Two months later a Denver Post editorial also mentioned western copper smelters as sources of Colorado’s acid rain, along with southeastern U.S. power plants—a source the paper had not previously suggested.60
Thus the western media still painted a blurry picture of the Rocky Mountain region’s acid rain sources through 1983, suggesting the Southwest’s smelters might be one possible source among many. At the same time, the Reagan administration and pro-high-sulfur-coal groups continued to cast doubt on the overall cause-and-effect relationships between industrial emissions and acid rain, even in the East.61 However, evidence of the connection between smelters and acid rain would soon grow, thanks in part to preexisting knowledge about smelter pollution and acid rain.
Preexisting Knowledge Helped Link Smelters with Acid Rain
In 1983 acid rain caused by distant sources was a new proposition in the Rocky Mountain West. However, knowledge already existing—and rapidly emerging—about other types of pollution from southwestern copper smelters as well as long-distance transport of acid-forming compounds in the East provided a scientific framework for building an acid
60 Jack Cox, “Study Shows More Acid Rain Falling,” Denver Post, June 3, 1983, B5; Associated Press, “Wirth Advocates Acid Rain Rules: Problem Worries Legislator,” Denver Post, June 4, 1983, B4; Denver Post (editorial), “Acid Rain Fight Must Begin,” B2.
61 Ed Marston, “Acid Rain: A Corrosive Issue across the Nation,” High Country News, September 19, 1983, 1, 12-14; Bill Hornby, “Acid Rain: An “Eastern” Problem Begins to Affect the West,” Denver Post, August 22, 1983, B3; Whipple, “Acid Precipitation,” 1, 12-13.
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rain case against the smelters. Smelting operations existed in Douglas, Arizona, since the turn of the twentieth century, and Phelps Dodge—owner of the Douglas smelter—began making small payments to American and Mexican farmers for SCE-induced crop damage in the 1930s.62 Phelps Dodge also purchased “smoke easements” near smelters to avoid liability for crop damage. Starting in 1955, it cut back smelter operations during the summer growing season for the same reason. Clearly the smelter’s emissions caused localized damage to plants, and, beginning in the 1970s, urban groups began bringing lawsuits over the smelters’ health effects.63
As acid rain became a western concern in the early 1980s, evidence about longdistance pollution from smelters emerged in relation to another type of pollution caused by SO2: regional haze, created when airborne particles—such as those made of sulfate—scatter light. In what the Denver Post called “one of the most widely cited studies,” Robert Eldred and colleagues from University of California at Davis found, before a three-month smelter strike in 1980, that sulfate levels increased significantly in northern Arizona and southern Utah when winds blew from the southern Arizona smelter region. During the strike, average sulfate levels dropped by 50 to 90 percent. Although the researchers did not examine wind patterns outside the Southwest, Eldred reported sulfate increases of 30 to 50 percent in national parks and monuments as far away as northern Colorado and southern Wyoming after the smelter strike ended. Similarly, a study based on a 1967-1968 smelter strike showed a 60
62 Although the Mexican payments were not known publicly until 1981 (Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 122).
63 Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 113, 124, 126-127.
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percent sulfate reduction in southern Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park, nearly 300 miles away from the smelters. An EPA-sponsored study suggested that southwestern smelters contributed much more to regional haze in the Southwest than did new coal-fired power plants.64
Reporting on the haze issue showed the magnitude of smelter SO2 emissions and linked SCE-caused haze with SCE-caused acid rain. One Denver Post article in 1982 summarized the conflicting studies about regional haze sources, but then concluded that “smelters - which produce 70 to 80 percent of the sulfur dioxide in the West - appear to account for most of the sulfate.” The article pegged SO2 emissions from the smelters—when they returned to full operation in two to three years—at 1.2 million tons per year.65 It also said SO2 “is believed to be the chief source of acid rain over the central Rockies.” Based on these statements, readers might have reasonably concluded that smelters were the major source of acid rain in the central Rockies. In any case, labeling the smelters the region’s largest source of SO2 jibed with a similar statement made around the same time in High Country News 66
The smelter industry defended itself against these assertions in the media, presenting scientific data to cast doubt on the results of other studies. One study sponsored by the smelter industry—which used visibility data from airports in Albuquerque, Phoenix, and
64 Cox, “Pollution Sources Unverified,” Bl, B12; Jack Cox, “Study Minimizes Generating Plants’ Sulfate Pollution,” Denver Post, September 26, 1982, B12.
65 For comparison, the article noted 20 to 30 million tons of SO2 were emitted each year “in the nation’s industrial heartland along the Ohio River Valley” (Cox, “Lobbying Push,” B12).
66 Cox, “Lobbying Push,” Bl, B12; Whipple, “Acid Precipitation,” 13.
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Yuma—found that 30 to 80 percent of variations in regional visibility could be caused by factors such as storms, humidity, wind speed, and seasonal changes. Only in Phoenix, about 100 miles northwest of the smelter region, did the study find a connection with the smelters, and that was a “weak association.” More broadly, smelter industry representatives reasoned, because southwestern smelter emissions had been cut nearly in half since the early 1970s, any emission-related environmental problems would have become obvious earlier. The director of environmental affairs for Kennecott Minerals Co. reported being “concerned that some people may be drawing conclusions from limited research.” To determine the relative contribution of smelters, power plants, and cities to visibility degradation in the Colorado River basin, the National Park Service and electric-industry groups planned to begin a five-year study in the fall of 1982.67
In 1983 two major reports on Midwestern coal plant emissions and acid rain in the East bolstered the evidence for long-range transportation and deposition of acidifying pollution in North America, which influenced media coverage in the West. The National Academies of Science published one report, and the Office of Technology Assessment published the other. According to High Country News, the two reports found that Midwest power plant emissions caused acid rain in the East, and thus acid rain “ceased to be a scientific question and became a political question.”68
The Denver Post’s senior editor agreed, indicating that the National Academies report proved the relationship between SO2 emissions and acid rain enough to suggest corrective
67 Cox, “Pollution Sources Unverified,” Bl, B12.
68 Marston, “Acid Rain: A Corrosive Issue,” 1, 12-14.
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action. The same Denver Post column also quoted EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus saying, “There is no longer any question that acid rain is a serious problem or that sulfur stack emissions are a primary contributing cause.”69 These reports built on reports published by the National Academies in 1981 and the EPA in 1982, which both presented strong evidence of cause and effect between coal plant emissions and acid rain in the East.70
The significance of preexisting knowledge about acid rain can be analyzed using a framework developed by international studies scholar Kenneth Wilkening. Linder this framework, the evidence of long-range transportation and deposition of acidifying pollution in eastern North America—and in Europe—established the basis for “universal” scientific knowledge, which scientists and others would “localize” to the situation in the western Llnited States. Wilkening defines the universal dimension as a “vehicle for transmitting general environmental understandings” independent of space and time. Such universal knowledge, “once constructed, diffuses from its place of origin and is applied by scientists to other regions, thereby creating region-specific knowledge. Thus, the universal becomes localized.” Localizing acid rain knowledge required determining the existence of a regional-scale problem, identifying emissions sources, understanding the particular sources of pollutants being deposited in specific areas, and characterizing adverse effects. By 1983, scientists had made a case for a regional-scale acid rain problem in the Rocky Mountains and noted the adverse potential effects if current trends continued. Answers to the source questions entailed more uncertainty, but the now “universal” knowledge about long-range
69 Hornby, “Acid Rain,” B3.
70 Oreskes and Conway, Merchants of Doubt, 78, 298.
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S02 transportation and acid deposition (from research in eastern North America and Europe) implicitly suggested smelters—the largest source of SO2 emissions in the West—as a likely western culprit. Yet local work still had to be done. As Wilkening says, “In the relationship between science and politics, it is overwhelmingly the localized dimension, not the universal, that interacts with the political circumstances of a region in defining an environmental issue and suggesting solutions.”71
However, in the short term, the reports about acid rain in the eastern United States, as well as contemporaneous proposals of national acid rain legislation, focused the western media’s attention on the West’s role in the national debate over regulating SO2 from coal-fired power plants. In the West, the debate about who should pay for SO2 cleanup highlighted the perception that the West’s power plants were already relatively clean. In addition, the debate suggested that the West’s low-sulfur coal—which already reduced SO2 emissions from western power plants—might offer a national SO2 solution as well. High Country News said that the West’s relatively low SO2 emissions meant NOx accounted for a larger share of its acid rain issue compared with the issue in the Midwest and East, which presented its own challenges. NOx could not be controlled by fuel switching and, although NOx removal was fairly easy for power plants, it was a problem for cars and trucks.72
71 Wilkening, “Localizing Universal,” 209-210, 213.
72 Hornby, “Acid Rain,” B3; Marston, “Acid Rain: A Corrosive Issue,” 1, 12-14; Peter G. Chronis, “Western Coal Sales Threat Predicted,” Denver Post, October 12, 1983, D6; Ed Marston, “Acid Rain Splits the Coal Industry,” High Country News, September 3, 1984, 11; Ed Marston, “Acid Rain: The Damage it Does Can Be Deadly,” High Country News, September 3, 1984, 1, 10-11.
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As of 1984—five years after the discovery of acid rain in the Rockies—western media had reported on many potential sources of the West’s acid rain: cars and trucks; urban emissions from the Los Angeles and Denver areas; smelters in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico; power plants in Colorado and the Four Comers area; power plants in the Southeast; emissions from Japan, Europe, and New York; and even some type of global atmospheric source. The relative contributions of NOx and SO2 were in doubt, as were the relationships between specific sources and specific receptor areas. The national debate focused on SO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants, and Gary Hart and High Country News joined some scientists in blaming much of the West’s problem on automobiles. The smelter industry continued to defend itself against haze-related accusations. Hart had called for more study of the issue as well as strong NOx regulations. In short, scientific evidence about the sources of the West’s acid rain seemed uncertain. Also in 1984, however, as the efforts of EDF and the World Resources Institute (WRI) to control western smelter pollution began to gain steam, these organizations would have a powerful effect on evidence, advocacy, and interests in this arena.
EDF and WRI Provided Evidence about Smelters and Acid Rain in the West
The Environmental Defense Fund and WRI played critical roles in building evidence about the connection between emissions from southwestern smelters and acid rain in the Rocky Mountains. In 1981, EDF launched its Western Acid Rain Project, under the leadership of attorney Robert Yuhnke, taking “aim at the copper and electric utility industries” with a first goal of “changing the politics of copper,” according to High Country
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News. The project provided “national lobbying, legal help and strategic thinking.”73 Soon Yuhnke allied with Arizona-based anti-smelter groups led by Priscilla Robinson and Richard Kamp. Over the next several years, this “antismelter triumvirate” worked on “stiffening the resolve of a reactive and slow-to-act agency (the EPA) while endeavoring to make sure Phelps Dodge had no friends left in the governor’s office or Congress,” says historian John Wirth.74 In particular, they fought against the Reagan administration’s efforts to “gut” the Clean Air Act and to extend, from 1988 to 1993, the NSO waivers on continuous smelter emissions controls.75 Much of their early advocacy focused on the visibility and health impacts of smelter emissions.76 By the end of 1982, they had helped make the smelters “a major villain” in the Arizona media, according to Wirth.77
As part of these activities, EDF generated key scientific evidence about the smelter-acid rain link. Central to this effort was research on the correlation between smelter emissions and western acid rain deposition conducted primarily by Yuhnke and EDF physicist Michael Oppenheimer. In 1981, when anti-smelter advocate Priscilla Robinson testified before California Representative Henry Waxman’s Subcommittee on Health and the
73 Ed Marston, “Douglas Smelter Shut: The West’s Lakes Are Safer,” High Country News, August 4, 1986, 13-14; Ed Marston, “Opinion: Real Reclamation,” High Country News, August 4, 1986, 15.
74 Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 159.
75 Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 159-160; Cox, “Lobbying Push,” Bl, B12.
76 Capaldo, “Smoke and Mirrors,” 89-90.
77 Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 161.
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Environment, she submitted EDF’s research into the record.78 EDF continued to refine the research—and articulate its implications—over the next several years. In November 1984, EDF published a report crystallizing the evidence Yuhnke and Oppenheimer had been developing about acid rain in the West, with a focus on smelter emissions. According to the authors, if the region’s smelters operated at maximum allowable emissions levels, they would produce about three fourths of all regional SO2 emissions, with power plants producing less than one fourth. Smelters also contributed the most to sulfur deposition in the Rocky Mountains, they said. They calculated a threshold for acid pollution damage and showed that sulfur deposition rates already exceeded the threshold in the West’s sensitive, poorly buffered watersheds. They then used this evidence to examine various future scenarios.
Based on this analysis, only the combination of stringently controlling both Mexican and U.S. smelter emissions would result in safe sulfur deposition levels in the West while enabling the addition of new emissions sources associated with economic growth over the next 20 to 40 years. Although the report focused on smelter emissions, it also noted the importance of controlling NOx-related damage to western watersheds. High Country News cited the EDF report immediately before its publication in a story about acid rain in the West. The Denver Post cited the report about six months after its publication in a story about Mexico’s Nacozari smelter.79
78 Ibid., 160.
79 Robert E. Yuhnke and Michael Oppenheimer, Safeguarding Acid-Sensitive Waters in the Intermountain West: A Sulfur Pollution Strategy for Preventing Acid Pollution Damage in the Intermountain Air Shed (New York: Environmental Defense Fund, 1984); McLeod, “West is Not Immune,” 12-13; Daniel P. Jones, “Huge Smelter Poses Threat of Acid Rain,” Denver Post, June 16, 1985, B6, B9.
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The World Resources Institute began working on western acid rain in 1982 after a workshop identified it as an important but understudied topic. WRI researched the issue in collaboration with the University of California at Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group.
In March 1985, WRI’s efforts yielded a significant contribution to the evidence about smelters and acid rain with publication of The American West’s Acid Rain Test. Authors from WRI and the University of California at Berkeley—including researcher John Harte, who had been studying acid rain in the Rocky Mountains for years—wrote the report. It assessed existing scientific literature (including the 1984 EDF report) and covered acidic deposition, geographic pollution trends, emissions sources and transport, and recommendations for the West. It identified Arizona’s smelters as “the single largest regional source of SO2 emissions in the western United States,” but also noted the contribution of other sources, such as power plants and other industrial processes. One of the report’s key recommendations was to control smelter emissions.80
The WRI report received significant media coverage. For example, a story in Science, the prestigious peer-reviewed journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, called the WRI report “the first study to take a comprehensive regional look at acid rain in the West” and treated its findings—including findings about smelter emissions—with respect. This helped impart scientific credibility to the report. The New York Times drew heavily on the report in a story about acid rain in the West, which noted “mounting evidence that airborne pollutants from the region’s numerous smelters are contributing to increasing acidity in high mountain lakes and streams in the Rockies.” Similarly, High Country News
80 Roth et al., American West’s Acid Rain Test, quote on p. 34.
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cited the report’s finding that “the greatest sulfate emissions come from copper smelters in southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico.” In a story about Mexico’s Nacozari smelter, the Denver Post noted the WRI report’s information on acid rain damage in the West.81
Various stakeholders in the western acid rain debate cited the WRI report during Congressional testimony. Gary Hart chaired an August 1985 hearing about acid rain in the West before the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works. He said he called for the hearing in Denver because he was “alarmed to see my State singled out as containing ‘red flag’ areas of vulnerability to acid rain deposition” as “designated in reports issued this year by the World Resources Institute and by the National Clean Air Fund.” Report coauthor John Harte’s representative cited the report during the hearing in support of mitigating acid deposition in the West, as did New Mexico Governor Toney Anaya,
Colorado Representative Tim Wirth, and EDF’s Robert Yuhnke. USGS hydrologist John Turk and U.S. Forest Service meteorologist Douglas Fox also cited the WRI report in their testimony. At a June 1985 hearing about acid rain in the West before the House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment (Committee on Energy and Commerce), those citing the WRI report included New Mexico Representative Bill Richardson, Governor
81 Marjorie Sun, “Possible Acid Rain Woes in the West,” Science 228 (April 5, 1985): 34; Iver Peterson, “Acid Rain Starting to Affect Environment and Politics in West,” New York Times, March 30, 1985, 6; D.S. Curtain, “As Acidic as the Driven Snow,” High Country News, November 24, 1986, 5; Jones, “Huge Smelter,” B6, B9.
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Anaya, EDF, the United Steelworkers of America, and Arizona Representative Morris Udall.82
Even groups explicitly skeptical or hostile toward actions to regulate acidifying emissions in the West cited the WRI report. During the 1985 Senate and House hearings, the pro-industry WRC suggested that WRI misinterpreted its own data in concluding that western SO2 emissions might remain approximately constant through 1990; according to the WRC, the report’s figures projected declining emissions. The WRC also noted, based on the WRI report, that potentially sensitive ecosystems typically were not near major sulfur and nitrogen emissions sources. Because the WRC denied the existence of scientific evidence for long-range sulfur transport, it used this WRI information to support its claim about the western acid rain threat being exaggerated. Similarly, in its July 1985 report attacking the link between smelters and western acid rain, the Copper Smelter Information Committee pointed out alleged discrepancies between the WRI report and EDF’s research about smelters, primarily as a way to discredit the EDF work.83
The Environmental Defense Fund’s contribution to the evidence about smelters and acid rain reached its peak in August 1985 with the publication of an article by Yuhnke, Oppenheimer, and EDF biologist Charles Epstein in Science. The authors identified a linear relationship between variation in SO2 emissions from western smelters and variation in
82 Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, Hart quote on p. 1; House, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West.
83 Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 142-168; House, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 200-224; Copper Smelter Information Committee, Western Smelters and Acid Rain: Setting the Record Straight (Phoenix: Copper Smelter Information Committee, 1985).
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precipitation sulfate concentrations in the Rocky Mountain states over a four-year period (1980-1983). In addition, they attributed about 70 percent of intermountain SO2 emissions to the smelters, with most of the rest coming from power plants. Their evidence also indicated transportation of sulfur over distances of more than 1,000 kilometers.84
The media immediately disseminated evidence from EDF’s Science article while adding context to the findings. Science News summarized the study and noted how it supported the 1983 National Academies of Science study’s conclusion that, “over a large enough region and averaged over a long enough time period,” SO2 emissions and sulfate deposition would probably correlate linearly in eastern North America. The Denver Post stressed the importance of the one-to-one relationship between SO2 emissions and sulfate concentrations in western precipitation falling up to 600 miles away, which the EDF study showed for the first time. “Opponents of new controls on sulfur dioxide emissions had questioned whether such a one-to-one relationship existed,” the Denver Post article said. The New York Times emphasized the study’s importance even more, noting it was the first to link changes in emissions directly with changes in the acidity of rainfall in areas hundreds of miles away. In the article, an EPA official and a Brookhaven National Laboratory researcher questioned the EDF study’s findings about direct cause and effect. However, the managing editor of Science said the study passed peer review with “high marks.” In addition, Jack Calvert, the lead author of the 1983 National Academies of Science report on acid rain said the EDF study offered the best evidence to date of the link between pollution and distant acid
84 Michael Oppenheimer, Charles B. Epstein, and Robert E. Yuhnke, “Acid Deposition, Smelter Emissions, and the Linearity Issue in the Western United States,” Science 229 (1985): 859-862.
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precipitation. James Gibson, a Colorado State University scientist who ran a federal acid rain monitoring program, said the findings were applicable to areas outside of the West as well. This wider applicability was part of the reason for the EDF study’s high profile and mixed reception. In relation to the acid rain situation in the East, scientists had “argued bitterly over whether a decrease in pollution would result in a proportional decline in the acidity of rainfall.” The Denver Post and New York Times articles both said smelters contributed about two thirds of SO2 emissions between the continental divide and the Sierras. According to High Country News, publication of the Science article “propelled reports about the research into most American papers.”85
The EDF study influenced the 1985 Congressional hearings on acid rain in the West. Debra Beck, executive director of the Wyoming Outdoor Council, referred to the study’s finding that “southwestern copper smelters may actually dominate sulfur deposition in the central and northern Rockies at sites as much as 600 miles away from the Phelps Dodge smelter.” Tim Wirth mentioned EDF among the sources of information he used to conclude that “we are presented with a great deal of certainty as to the sources largely responsible for the growing western acid rain phenomenon — a degree of certainty which allows us to take immediate steps today to begin to control the threats which have emerged. At a minimum, we must act to control the emission of sulfur oxides (SO2) from smelters located throughout the southwest and Mexico and emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) from mobile and industrial
85 Iver Peterson, “Rocky Mountain (Sulfur) Highs and Lows,” Science News 128 (1985); Denver Post Staff and Wire Reports, “Sulfate in Western Rain Tied to Regional Smelters,” Denver Post, August 23, 1985, A14; Erik Eckholm, “Distant Pollution Tied to Acid Rain: Study Cites Effect of Smelter Emissions in Southwest,” New York Times, August 23, 1985, Al, B18; Ed Marston, “Smelter Companies Dispute Acid Rain Data,” High Country News, November 11, 1985, 3.
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sources.” In his testimony, Wyoming Governor Ed Herschler noted the contradiction between the EDF findings, which suggested that “over half of the acidic deposition experienced in Wyoming results from the non-ferrous smelters in the western United States,” and a 1984 TRC Consultants report concluding that “the smelters are not major contributors to the measured sulfur deposition in Wyoming.” He seemed to find the EDF study persuasive, however, because he called on Congress not to extend the smelter emissions compliance deadline, citing “the potential for increased acidic deposition.” Yuhnke would later say that the link between emissions and acid deposition made in the Science article “gave Rocky Mountain congressmen a stake in the copper industry’s efforts to extend beyond 1988 their immunity from the Clean Air Act.” Others who cited EDF’s findings at the Congressional hearings on acid rain in the West included the Congressional Research Service, Arizona Representative Morris Udall, and USGS hydrologist John Turk.86 The scientific evidence provided by EDF and WRI helped shape the debate about smelters and acid rain in the West, but supplying evidence was only one part of the strategy employed by these organizations.
Effective Advocacy Brought EDF and WRI’s Evidence into the Mainstream
The Environmental Defense Fund and WRI advocated about the evidence linking smelters with acid rain—and its policy implications—aggressively and effectively. Even before EDF published its study correlating smelter emissions with acid rain, regional media
86 Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, quotes on pp. 62-63, 80, 91; House, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West; Ed Marston, “The West Cleans Up Its Act: Douglas, Arizona, Smelter Closes,” High Country News, February 2, 1987, 10.
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quoted EDF representatives in stories about the issue.87 After it first published its study in 1984—and then began suing Phelps Dodge and Magma to cut smelter SO2 emissions in Arizona—EDFs media profile rose further. In addition to the stories noted in the section above, the New York Times cited EDF’s findings and position—typically crediting Yuhnke, Oppenheimer, or both—in other articles related to the EDF lawsuit and the western acid rain issue in general. The Times also ran editorials by Oppenheimer in which he called for an effective national acid rain control program and noted the irony of the Reagan administration’s engaging with Mexico over the Nacozari smelter emissions while continuing to stonewall Canada.88 Overall, from 1982 through 1986, the Denver Post mentioned EDF in relation to the western acid rain issue in at least seven articles, and High Country News added at least another four.89 Clearly EDF’s media campaign resulted in significant regional and
87 Cox, “Lobbying Push,” Bl, B12; Cox, “Study Shows More,” B5; McLeod, “West is Not Immune,” 12-13.
88 New York Times, “Suit Filed on Acid Rain in West,” New York Times, November 29, 1984, A27; Peterson, “Acid Rain Starting,” 6; Nelson Bryant, “In the West, Concern Over Acid Rain,” New York Times, January 12, 1986, S10; Michael Oppenheimer, “Acid Rain Goes West,” New York Times, February 20, 1985, A23; Michael Oppenheimer, “Acid Rain Falls and Falls,” New York Times, December 23, 1985, A17.
89 Cox, “Lobbying Push,” Bl, B12; Dave Price, “Acid Rain Suit Filed by Clubs,” Denver Post, June 2, 1983, B5-B6; Cox, “Study Shows More,” B5; Daniel P. Jones, “State Acid Rain Damage a Decade Off, NCAR Chief Says,” Denver Post, November 30, 1984, A8; Daniel P. Jones, “Forest Service, EPA at Odds over Forest Survey,” Denver Post, April 1, 1985, A4-A5; Jones, “Huge Smelter,” B6, B9; Denver Post Staff and Wire Reports, “Sulfate in Western Rain,” A14; McLeod, “West is Not Immune,” 12-13; Marston, “Douglas Smelter Shut,” 13-14; Marston, “Opinion: Real Reclamation,” 15; Marston, “Smelter Companies Dispute,” 3.
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national media publicity, in addition to contributing to major media coverage of anti-smelter activities in Arizona.90
The Environmental Defense Fund implemented other effective forms of advocacy as well, especially starting in 1984. “In retrospect, 1984 was the turning point year,” remembered EDF ally Priscilla Robinson about the anti-smelter activities as a whole. “We moved from the defensive to the offensive.” As part of that offensive, Yuhnke and Oppenheimer presented a western acid rain slide show at various venues, the content of which culminated in EDF’s published report and its Science article. They presented to Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt and Arizona Congressman Morris Udall. After learning about the acidification of mountain lakes through this presentation, Udall—an environmentalist but longtime ally of copper interests in his district—came out against the NSO extension. Babbitt would take an anti-extension position as well. In July 1984 Yuhnke “was the star at a western acid rain meeting in Gunnison,” according to Robinson. Soon EDF was suing to reduce smelter emissions, which represented another form of advocacy. Yuhnke also testified—on behalf of EDF, the Sierra Club, and the Wyoming Outdoor Council—at the House and Senate hearings about acid rain in the West in 1985, which included presenting evidence of smelter impacts as well as related policy recommendations.91
The World Resources Institute also advocated in prominent forums about the connection between smelter emissions and acid rain in the West. WRFs western acid rain
90 Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 161.
91 Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 160-162; Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 173-194; House, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 64-81.
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report received significant media coverage, as noted in the previous section. In addition, one of the report’s authors, Mohamed El-Ashry, penned a Denver Post editorial identifying southwestern smelters as a major SO2 source of western acid rain and recommending cleaning them up. El-Ashry also testified about western acid rain at hearings of the House Subcommittee on National Parks and Recreation and the House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment. Another principal author of the WRI report, University of California at Berkeley professor John Harte, provided written testimony about his biological studies near Gothic, Colorado, at the 1985 Senate hearing on acid rain in the West. “Based on our present understanding of emissions, atmospheric pathways, and the chemical composition of the precipitation at our site, our best guess is that metal smelters, fossil-fuel-powered electric generating plants, and mobile sources all contribute significantly to the acid deposition at the site,” his testimony stated. Among his subsequent policy recommendations, he called for requiring emissions from smelters in Arizona and Mexico to be controlled.92 Such advocacy efforts helped push WRI and EDF’s evidence about smelters and acid rain into the mainstream.
The Mexican Smelter Threat Changed U.S. Interests and Beliefs Related to Acid Rain
For many years, Canada criticized the United States for sending pollution across the two nations’ shared border and causing acid rain. Canada had much to lose: 70 percent of its economy relied on forests, fish, or related tourism during the mid-1980s, and these resources
92 Mohamed T. El-Ashry, “Acid Problem Creeps Westward,” Denver Post, July 13, 1985, A8; Ann Schmidt, “West More Vulnerable to Acid Rain, Panel Told,” Denver Post, May 21,
1985, A7; Beth Frerking, “Views Split on Proposed Acid Rain Bill,” Denver Post, May 8,
1986, B4; Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 31.
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were vulnerable to acid rain. Conversely, Canada sent relatively little air pollution to the United States. Thus cleaning up the transborder acid-forming emissions would have benefited Canada more while costing the United States more. Not coincidentally, Canada became convinced about the acid rain problem more quickly and more firmly than did the United States, which continued to stress the uncertainties surrounding the issue. Chris Bernabo—who served on the White House Council on Environmental Quality and as research director for the Interagency Task Force on Acid Precipitation during the 1980s— later discussed the relationship among costs, benefits, evidence, and certainty. As paraphrased by historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, Bernabo said, “It was only natural that [Canadians] would interpret the evidence as more dire than their U.S. counterparts would. ... For any problem, the degree of scientific certainty demanded is proportional to the cost of doing something about it. So the United States was more resistant to accepting the evidence and demanded a high level of certainty.”93
As the acid rain controversy between Canada and the United States was peaking in the mid-1980s, the proposed expansion of Mexican copper-smelting capacity put the shoe on the other foot. The Mexican smelters threatened to export considerable local and long-range SO2 pollution into the United States, while also competing with the depressed U.S. copper industry. This foreign incursion cast the United States as a pollution victim and reduced the level of scientific certainty required to cement a link between smelters and acid rain in U.S. eyes. Ultimately the Mexican smelter issue helped persuade many U.S. stakeholders to accept the evidence for smelter-linked acid rain in the West.
93 Oreskes and Conway, Merchants of Doubt, 76-77.
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In 1983, Arizona politicians, environmentalists, and media began linking Mexico’s expanded copper smelting capacity with economic and environmental threats while connecting these issues with the pollution emanating from the Phelps Dodge smelter in Douglas. After discovering that the World Bank was loaning money to expand the uncontrolled Mexican smelter at Cananea (a loan that was later canceled), Arizona Representative Jim McNulty and Senator Dennis DeConcini—both pro-labor Democrats— held a hearing about loans to foreign companies in competition with U.S. industry.94 Priscilla Robinson and other environmentalists helped the Congressmen with the hearing and testified about pollution at it. Anti-smelter advocate Richard Kamp soon sounded the alarm that Mexico’s huge new Nacozari smelter, which the World Bank was also funding, would begin operation without emissions controls. According to High Country News, the smelter would emit 500,000 tons of SO2 per year, becoming the second-largest SO2 source on the continent. The result, according to Kamp and other environmentalists, would be a hellish “Gray Triangle” of smelter pollution between Cananea, Nacozari, and Douglas—an image the Arizona and national media would use repeatedly over the next several years. This framework established the concept of reciprocity between Mexico and the United States with regard to smelter emissions. “Unless we act promptly [to protect Mexicans from Douglas], we can hardly expect a reciprocal response from the Mexicans with respect to Nacozari and Cananea,” Arizona Governor Babbitt said.95
94 According to Wirth {Smelter Smoke, 185), “The Cananea expansion was canceled as much for business reasons as from congressional pressure.”
95 McLeod, “West is Not Immune,” 12-13; Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 172-173, 179.
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The arrow shows movement of S02 from smelters to the Wind River Range.
Figure 2. Representation of the “Gray Triangle” from High Country News, 198796
Environmentalists and other stakeholders used the Gray Triangle linkage repeatedly to argue for closing the Douglas smelter, with EDF at the forefront of arguments related to acid rain. In fact, by 1985, “the chief objective of the environmentalists was the [Phelps Dodge] operating permit, the Mexican connection, and linking the two,” according to 96
96 Marston, “West Cleans Up,” 10.
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Robinson. EDFs 1984 report said that Mexican and U.S. smelter emissions both had to be controlled to protect the West from acid rain. Regional and national newspapers picked up on this theme. High Country News, citing EDF, identified uncontrolled American smelters as a major acid rain source and projected that the Nacozari smelter would increase regional SO2 smelter emissions by 50 percent when it came online in 1985. A Denver Post article titled “Huge Smelter Poses Threat of Acid Rain: Westerners Fear Mexico Smelter Will Lead to Acid Rain,” which also cited EDF, clearly linked the control of emissions from the Douglas and Nacozari smelters. The article quoted an unidentified EPA source saying that “we’re going to have a difficult time with the Mexicans” if American smelters were not controlled, and it noted Babbitt’s willingness to impose state controls on Arizona smelters if the EPA signed a reciprocal agreement with Mexico. New York Times coverage also strongly linked the Mexican and American smelter emissions, using source material from EDF.97
The campaign to link the issues surrounding the Nacozari and Douglas smelters resulted in political support for controlling smelter emissions. Citing acid rain concerns, a bipartisan group of ten members of Congress—including Senators Gary Hart (Colorado),
Pete Domenici (New Mexico), and Barry Goldwater (Arizona) and Representatives Morris Udall and John McCain (both from Arizona)—joined the governors of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming in opposing a draft agreement between the EPA and Mexico to permit Nacozari to operate without controls until 1988. Additional political action
97 Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 180; Yuhnke and Oppenheimer, Safeguarding Acid-Sensitive Waters; McLeod, “West is Not Immune,” 12-13; Jones, “Huge Smelter Poses Threat,” B6, B9; Eckholm, “Distant Pollution,” Al, B18; Oppenheimer, “Acid Rain Falls,” A17; Bryant, “In the West,” S10; New York Times, “Now the Acid Rain’s Headed Our Way,” New York Times, February 13, 1986, A30.
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included introduction of protectionist legislation by “an unlikely coalition of national environmental groups and the copper industry seeking protection against foreign copper imports,” says historian John Wirth. This legislation would have punished Mexican copper companies that did not use emissions controls. Colorado Senator Gary Hart and Representative Tim Wirth coordinated with Yuhnke on their legislative strategy for the Nacozari issue. Yuhnke, in turn, discussed the linkage between the Mexican and American smelter emissions with EPA Administrator Ruckelshaus. Representative Henry Waxman called the June 1985 House hearing on acid rain in the West because of “the vitally important topics of Mexico’s new gigantic Nacozari Smelter, the growing threat of acid rain in the West, and EPA’s new tall stack regulation.” At that hearing, Representative Gerry Sikorski (Minnesota, member of the House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment), Representative Bill Richardson (New Mexico), and Senator Jeff Bingaman (New Mexico) were among the policymakers calling for control of Nacozari. Robinson cited the Nacozari issue as one of the two reasons politicians began backing away from the Douglas smelter NSO extension in 1984, with the other being political damage to Phelps Dodge caused by a 1983 strike. “The best weapon that the environmentalists and their allies had in their arsenal of arguments for shutting Douglas down was the Mexican threat,” concludes John Wirth.98
The Nacozari issue also compelled the Reagan administration and its EPA to address U.S. and Mexican smelter pollution, although not explicitly because of acid rain. In July 1985, the Mexican environmental ministry (SEDUE) and the EPA finalized an agreement
98 Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 161, 180, 183; Jones, “Huge Smelter Poses Threat,” B6, B9; Bill Walker, “3 Governors Urge Increasing Acid Rain Research in the West,” Denver Post, August 13, 1985, A6; House, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West.
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linking cleanups or shutdowns of high-emitting U.S. smelters by 1988 with the control of Nacozari’s emissions. At the same time, however, the EPA officially maintained that “there is as yet an insufficient understanding of the atmospheric processes involved to conclude that these sources [large sources including non-ferrous smelters along the U.S./Mexican border] could significantly contribute to deposition loading in more northern mountainous sensitive areas.” EPA regional administrator Dick Whittington went on to summarize the Reagan administration’s wait-and-see approach to the acid rain issue and the role of scientific uncertainty:
Most simply stated, the Administration’s acid rain policy is that acid deposition is a real and serious environmental problem. However, we have postponed making a decision on what additional action, if any, is appropriate. In so doing, we have not decided that acid rain controls are unnecessary. Rather we have chosen to wait because we feel it is premature and unwise to make a decision limited by our current understanding. We believe that additional scientific information is needed before we are in a position to make a prudent choice regarding the best course of action to be taken. This Administration has stated publicly and before this Committee that when the fundamental scientific uncertainties have been reduced, we will craft and support an appropriate set of measures to solve the acid rain problem. The Administration still stands behind this commitment.
This statement aligned with the EPA’s consistent emphasis on uncertainty about the connection between smelter emissions and acid rain in the West as well as the need for more information before action."
Federal Agencies Emphasized Scientific Uncertainty
Scientists from federal agencies other than the EPA also portrayed significant uncertainty about smelter emissions and acid rain in the West. Several federal scientists 99
99 Marston, “Douglas Smelter Shut,” 13-14; Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 184-185; House, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 47-48.
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testified about sources of acidifying pollution at the House or Senate hearings on acid rain in the West in 1985. Their conclusions varied, but—taken as a whole—their testimony suggested remaining uncertainty about the importance of smelters as an acid rain source. Most prominently, USGS research hydrologist John Turk denied the existence of regional sulfate-based acidification. He based this conclusion on evidence of similar sulfate concentrations observed in the lakes of three monitoring areas at very different distances from major proposed sources, including smelters and coal power plants. Turk said there was concern about future acid rain impacts on aquatic systems in the West, but at this time “it looks like the only convincing evidence for even chemically detectable effects as opposed to biological damage are located relatively close to readily identifiable sources, these being primarily the major metropolitan areas within the Western United States.” Conversely, William Malm, research physicist of the National Park Service said pollution from smelters and urban areas was affecting visibility in southwestern parks, and he noted the same pollutants affecting visibility caused acid deposition. He did not, however, discuss parks further north—in Colorado or Wyoming, for example, where much of the acid rain controversy was centered—nor did he provide evidence specific to acid deposition.100
Two U.S. Forest Service researchers acknowledged smelters as sources of acidifying pollution in the West but emphasized the uncertainty surrounding source allocation. Douglas Fox, chief meteorologist for the Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, said smelters contributed SO2, but he emphasized the “great uncertainty” surrounding current emissions sources and the “even less credible” projections of future source inventories. In
100 Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 29-30; House, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 50-54.
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particular he highlighted the uncertainties associated with modeling cause and effect relationships associated with changes in emissions sources, saying, “Lack of data combined with model controversy and complexity make numerical projections purely speculative.”
Alan Galbraith, forest hydrologist for Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest, attributed pollution in that area to Wyoming industrial operations, Utah urban-industrial areas, copper smelters in Arizona and northern Mexico, and the Los Angeles basin. However, “The apportioning of acid deposition among suspect source areas is an important and, as yet, unanswered question,” he said.101
Industry Stakeholders Failed to Derail the Acid Rain Narrative
Industry stakeholders generated evidence and advocated to counter the rising narrative about long-distance acidification from smelter emissions across the West. However, although industry pushback on the broader issue of western industrial emissions and acid rain received attention, industry efforts were relatively weak and fragmented with regard to the smelter controversy in particular. Thus the industrial counter-narrative provided fodder for uncertainty, but on balance it failed to negate the portrayal of smelters as a major acid rain source in the West.
The smelter industry had no direct representation at the 1985 House and Senate hearings on acid rain in the West. Phelps Dodge merely submitted a letter declining an invitation to the House hearing, which said, “We are unaware of an acid rain problem in the West and we have no knowledge to impart on the tall stack regulations ... As to the operation
101 Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 113-114, 275.
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of the Phelps Dodge smelter at Douglas, Arizona, our application for a nonferrous smelter order has been duly made to the Environmental Protection Agency and that application is currently under review by the Agency.” Phelps Dodge had fought vigorously for years through legal and political channels to preempt environmental constraints on its operations.102 Yet now, with regulatory and possibly legislative actions on the Douglas smelter hanging in the balance, the company chose not to make a strong case about acid rain at high-level hearings covered by major media outlets. It might have lacked interest in the hearings because it believed they would be unhelpful to its cause, it did not see the acid rain attribution as a central threat to its operation, or it was already negotiating with the EPA to settle the Douglas smelter issue.103
In between the two 1985 Congressional hearings, however, a smelter industry group
released a report strongly attacking the connection between acid rain and smelter emissions
and disparaging EDF in particular. High Country News described the report as follows:
Through its newly formed Copper Smelter Information Committee, industry charges that an EDF study linking smelters in southern Arizona to acid rain in Wyoming and Colorado is scientifically false and politically motivated. The committee said environmentalists are trying to broaden the geographic constituency favoring national acid rain legislation by making it appear that the problem exists in the West, as well as in the East.
It is unclear why smelter or other industrial interests did not use information from this report during the Congressional hearings. The extent of the report’s dissemination and impact are also unclear based on the primary sources examined in the present analysis. According to
102 Phelps Dodge also sponsored a report saying acid rain could be good for the West (Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 165).
103 House, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 181; Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 112-141, 153.
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historian Stephanie Capaldo, the participation of the Copper Smelter Information Committee in the acid rain discussion “only served to increase panic surrounding the controversy of acid rain in the American West. ‘Acid rain’s’ power to incite public interest, fear, and fascination grew.”104
The WRC made a more spirited defense of western industrial emitters at the 1985 House and Senate hearings, which included stressing uncertainty related to the link between smelter emissions and acid rain. The WRC represented more than 40 western companies in sectors including mining, utility, investment, construction, transportation, accounting, engineering, and oil and gas. One of its stated purposes was to “establish a balanced viewpoint between the need for a safe and clean environment in which to live and the need for a healthy and active economy in our region.” At the hearings, it emphasized the importance of basing action on adequate scientific evidence and suggested the debate was being influenced by “unsubstantiated allegations or threats, the private agenda of individuals or groups, or inaccurate summary statements or ‘desired’ conclusions from various unsubstantiated reports.”105
The WRC made two specific arguments related to long-distance transport of acid-causing emissions in the West and long-distance impacts of smelter emissions specifically. First, it argued that sulfur emissions—including emissions from smelters—were lower in the present than in the past, and they were projected to decline further, citing EPA, WRI, and State of New Mexico analyses. Yet, the organization reasoned, because no acid rain damage
104 Marston, “Smelter Companies Dispute,” 3; Capaldo, “Smoke and Mirrors,” 233.
105 House, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 200, 202.
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in the West had been scientifically proven during or after the higher-emitting years, sulfur emissions and acid rain damage were not linked. Second, the WRC claimed that “objective research has not established significant long-range transportation of sulfur emission products in the West nor damage or serious threat from transport.” In support of this claim, it cited a 1984 study by Ashbaugh and colleagues showing that “sulfur emission products in the southern Rocky Mountains are not transported in significant amounts to the northern Rockies.” It also cited a USGS study showing that stream acidity in Colorado was not linked to Arizona SO2 emissions. During questioning in the Senate hearing, WRC representative Bruce Rockwell questioned “entirely whether or not there is any fallout in the Rocky Mountain areas from those smelters,” because there was “simply no scientific evidence about the prevailing winds blowing in this direction, no matter how badly some of our environmental friends would like to have that happen.”106
It is beyond the scope of the present research to analyze the veracity and persuasiveness of all the specific claims made and evidence cited by various stakeholders. However, because different sides in the debate cited the Ashbaugh research to support different assertions, the use of this work exemplifies the flexibility of evidence interpretation and suggests the difficulty non-scientists must have had in critically assessing the connections between claims and the scientific evidence used to support them. As noted above, the WRC used a 1984 Ashbaugh study to claim significant sulfur emissions products were not transported from the southern to the northern Rockies; it did not provide a specific citation, although Ashbaugh and colleagues published at least two articles in 1984. During
106 House, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 209-210; Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 45.
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the 1985 Senate hearing, Forest Service hydrologist Alan Galbraith cited the 1984 article by Ashbaugh and colleagues published in Atmospheric Environment to claim, with regard to sources of acid rain precursors in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains, “Rather strong circumstantial findings of air flow patterns from Arizona and northern Mexico suggest a source area associated with the copper smelter complex in this region.” In their 1985 peer-reviewed article in Science, the EDF researchers cited the same article by Ashbaugh and colleagues—along with other publications from these and other researchers—to support their finding of a linear relationship between smelter emissions and precipitation sulfate concentrations at distant Rocky Mountain sites.107
In any case, outside the WRC, no industrial stakeholders presented evidence on behalf of smelters at the 1985 Congressional hearings, which demonstrated the fragmented nature of industrial interests surrounding the acid rain issue. The Alliance for Clean Energy, which represented low-sulfur coal interests, declined to judge acid rain research, choosing instead to promote legislation allowing industries to reduce emissions via use of low-sulfur coal. The Colorado Mining Association noted the need for more research on acid rain sources before any emissions-reducing legislation might be implemented, then called for flexible emissions-reductions strategies in any such legislation—a transparent promotion of Colorado’s low-sulfur coal. The lack of industry support for smelters at the hearings is consistent with John Wirth’s interpretation of industry interests at the time: low-sulfur coal companies saw opportunity in acid rain regulations, while those interested in western oil, gas, synfuel, and coal power projects worried that smelter SO2 emissions would limit their ability
107 Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 275; Oppenheimer et al., “Acid Deposition, Smelter Emissions,” 859-862.
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to develop within the context of emissions caps. Even the smelter industry was fragmented. Copper companies ASARCO and Kennecott, for example, resented the competitive advantage Phelps Dodge received from the NSO waiver and helped Priscilla Robinson in her campaign to clean up the Douglas smelter starting in 1982.108
The Copper Smelter Information Committee’s report attacking scientific evidence of the acid rain link and EDF failed to receive the same media coverage as did the EDF Science article or WRI report. In fact no mentions of the organization or report emerged in a search of the New York Times, Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, and several news databases.109 High Country News cited it, as noted above, although that article mainly promoted the findings of the EDF study. It seems likely that a thorough search of southwestern newspapers would reveal additional stories, but the broader lack of coverage might suggest that the Copper Smelter Information Committee deliberately chose not to publicize the report widely or had a poor media strategy. Perhaps the group had a different purpose for the report, such as for direct political lobbying. Alternatively, the same newspapers publicizing the EDF and WRI work might have chosen not to cover the pro-smelter report, which seems unlikely given the media’s penchant for controversy—unless they deemed the report to be non-credible. In any case, the apparent lack of media attention, and the absence of the report’s findings during the 1985 Congressional hearings, limited the Copper Smelter Information Committee’s ability to introduce uncertainty about the link between smelters and acid rain.
108 Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 40, 284-285; Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 165-166; Capaldo, “Smoke and Mirrors,” 111.
109 Including the Newspaper Source Plus and Access Newspaper Archive databases, Google, and Google Scholar.
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The questioning of a link between smelters and haze or acid rain received relatively limited newspaper coverage overall. The Denver Post, for example, published science-based rebuttals of smelter haze studies sponsored by the smelter industry as well as smelter industry quotes questioning the conclusiveness of acid rain research. Another article quoted a Phelps Dodge ecologist concluding that acid rain had not caused a “measurable effect” in the West. However, this type of coverage was small compared with coverage of the EDF and WRI reports. Most striking is the lack of direct pushback from smelter interests in articles about the EDF and WRI reports. The lack of smelter industry viewpoints in the media also highlights the effectiveness of EDF and WRI’s advocacy, which helped convert the work of those organizations into a mainstream narrative about acid rain in the West.110
State and Federal Policymakers Acted as Audiences and Advocates
State and federal policymakers served as target audiences for advocates on various sides of the debate about smelters and acid rain. However, these policymakers also had their own related interests, and these interests aligned with the positions they advocated about the certainty of evidence surrounding the issue.
By the mid-1980s, the governors of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming were signaling their certainty about the smelter-acid rain link while calling for cleanup of the dirtiest smelters. Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt was particularly important, because the key American smelter—the Phelps Dodge smelter in Douglas—was in his state, and he had some influence over its fate. For many years, the smelting industry had been sacrosanct
110 Cox, “Pollution Sources Unverified,” Bl, B12; Cox, “Lobbying Push,” Bl, B12; Neil Westergaard, “Capitol Banner Protests Acid Rain,” Denver Post, April 23, 1986, Bl.
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among Arizona politicians. Yet times were changing. The U.S. copper industry appeared to
be in decline, and Babbitt was among those promoting new industries for the state, such as
fruit trees, light industry, and retirement communities. Said Babbitt in 1985:
Had you come West 10 years ago I think you would have found Arizonans lining up to persuade you that the shortrun apparent economic gains from the operation of these copper smelters justified looking the other way when it came to the environmental issues. I believe that a strong majority of Arizonans would now say it is in our economic interest to deal forcefully with this crisis. One hundred, or 200 jobs at Douglas, AZ, pale into insignificance compared with economic development opportunities that are being lost in one of the most attractive parts of the United States where economic development is on hold because of our failure to come to grips with this issue.
From the perspective of Babbitt and others promoting new industries for Arizona, the smelters—and especially the Douglas smelter—were now a blight.111
A 1984 strike by Phelps Dodge workers gave Babbitt further cause to distance himself from the smelter industry. He was forced to call out the National Guard to handle the dispute, and he blamed Phelps Dodge for the contentiousness. At the same time, the defeated workers turned against Phelps Dodge and threw their political support behind measures that would handicap the company. The number of Arizona jobs related to smelting had already declined, and this alliance with the union made opposing Phelps Dodge even more politically tenable. Phelps Dodge, however, still had significant public support in the area, the Arizona state legislature supported extension of the Douglas smelter’s NSO, and Arizona’s Senator Dennis DeConcini and Representative John McCain supported leniency on the emissions issue. The diplomatic link between the Douglas and Nacozari smelters as well as the widely
111 Jones, “Huge Smelter Poses Threat,” B6, B9; Walker, “3 Governors Urge,” A6; House, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 23; Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 157-158; Capaldo, “Smoke and Mirrors,” 69-77, 155.
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publicized threat of acid rain gave Babbitt further cause to call for action. With both uncontrolled smelters online, many of his constituents believed they would have to endure significantly increased pollution, health impacts, haze, and acid rain—and those constituents were increasingly vocal about their concerns. “Public criticism of air pollution and Phelps Dodge grew in the early 1980s and Phelps Dodge could no longer hide behind powerful political allies or economic arguments alone,” says historian Stephanie Capaldo. At the same time, national polls and media suggested that most Americans supported more stringent environmental protections. All these factors made it easier for Babbitt to publicly accept the evidence for acid rain caused by smelter emissions.112
Colorado Governor Dick Lamm’s position was less complicated. His state was on the receiving end of the postulated smelter-based acidification, and Colorado had no smelting industry of its own to protect. What he did need to protect was Colorado’s image as natural, clean, and wild, which the Denver Post said was critical to the state’s substantial tourism industry. In addition, Lamm was a prominent environmentalist engaged in the acid rain issue at a national level. In 1981, for example, he proposed that the National Governors’ Association issue a strongly worded statement noting the severity of the U.S. acid rain problem and calling for action. The existing evidence of smelter impacts on Colorado was enough to convince Lamm of the need for action.113
112 Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 156-157, 161, 196-197; Capaldo, “Smoke and Mirrors,” 102, 109, 118-119, 123-125, 128, 234; House, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 23-25, 173-180.
113 Denver Post (editorial), “Acid Rain Threatens Tourism as well as Trees,” Denver Post, July 30, 1984, A12; Gavin, “Lamm’s Tough Acid Rain Stand,” 6.
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In contrast, New Mexico Governor Toney Anaya presided over a state with significant copper smelting interests as well as potentially threatened high mountain lakes and proximity to the region’s uncontrolled smelter emissions. New Mexico’s smelters, however, were much cleaner than Arizona’s Douglas smelter and Mexico’s Nacozari and Cananea smelters, because they had installed effective emissions controls—at significant expense. Thus Anaya had reason to feel protected from the campaign against uncontrolled smelters while being incentivized to join that campaign because, as he stated at the 1985 House hearing on acid rain in the West, “These uncontrolled polluters gain extremely unfair competitive advantages by escaping the costs of pollution control.” At the same hearing, Anaya made clear that the current evidence was sufficient for action, and he contrasted his view with the EPA’s contention that evidence of smelters causing environmental problems in the West was insufficient. “I think there already is evidence,” Anaya said. “I referred to one particular report [the WRI report] that was recently issued ... I would be a little bit concerned by [the EPA’s] statement, and be concerned that perhaps it’s just a copout that the EPA is just simply not prepared to address the problem.”114
Although Wyoming had no copper smelters, its pollution-emitting industries were significant and growing, and Governor Ed Herschler saw controlling southwestern smelter emissions as a way to enable his state’s industrial growth under the federal air-quality standards. His Congressional testimony reflected the slight ambivalence of a state that strongly wanted to pollute but did not want to receive the pollution of others. “First it is clear to us that our scientific knowledge of acid rain has not caught up with the politics of the acid
114 Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 179; House, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 15-17.
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rain issue, and as a result the emotional tail may well wag the dog,” he said. “However, while we believe that much additional knowledge and information must be gathered before we can fully understand the implications of all of our actions and decisions, we remain firmly convinced that we know enough to begin to develop the strategy which will allow us to take actions as it is appropriate.” He then went on to call for Clean Air Act amendments to reduce interstate acidifying pollution transport, cleanup of the uncontrolled Arizona and Mexican smelters, and additional research on acid rain in the West.115
The testimony from Members of Congress at the 1985 hearings on acid rain in the West corresponded to state interests as well. New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman accepted the link between smelter emissions and acid rain and called for controls on the Mexican smelters. Arizona Representative Morris Udall acknowledged the potential seriousness of the problem, called for additional research, and advocated not extending the Douglas smelter’s NSO exemption while negotiating for controls on the Mexican smelters. He also reported introducing legislation—H.R. 2679, the Udall/Cheney acid rain control bill—along these lines; Wyoming Representative Dick Cheney saw acid rain legislation as a way to market low-sulfur western coal. Colorado Representative Tim Wirth emphasized the urgency of addressing acid rain problems in the West and called for cleaning up American and Mexican smelters, reducing NOx emissions including those from automobiles, and strengthening the Clean Air Act overall to address acid rain nationally. Colorado Senator Gary Hart, who chaired the Senate hearing, expressed deep concern over the acid rain issue but did not take
115 Senat q, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 14-15.
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an explicit stance on the persuasiveness of the evidence of smelter contributions. However, he was part of the group pushing for control of the Nacozari smelter.116
The EPA’s wait-and-see approach on smelter pollution, which its representatives purveyed at both Congressional hearings on acid rain in the West, aligned with the Reagan administration’s established wait-and-see policy on the broader issue of acid rain in North America. In particular the linkage between Arizona’s Douglas smelter and Mexico’s Nacozari smelter created a tricky diplomatic situation: if the United States explicitly called on Mexico to reduce transborder acidifying emissions, then the credibility of longstanding denials of U.S. emissions damaging Canada might be compromised.117 By the mid-1980s, the eastern part of the United States and Canada was much better studied than was the western United States with regard to the sources and impacts of acid rain. Yet the Reagan administration continued to justify inaction in the East based on uncertainty and the need for more research. Thus adopting a similar strategy for the West was a logical choice.
Acid Rain Concerns Contributed to the Control of U.S. and Mexican Smelters
The Phelps Dodge smelter in Douglas, Arizona, closed on January 15, 1987, in what some called “the biggest environmental victory since the stoppage of the Kaiparowits powerplant in southern Utah.”118 Also by that time, Mexico had committed to controlling the
116 House, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 6-7, 198-199; Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 198; Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 11-12; Jones, “Huge Smelter Poses Threat,” B6, B9.
117 McLeod, “West is Not Immune,” 12-13; New York Times, “Now the Acid Rain’s Headed,” A30.
118 Marston, “The West Cleans Up,” 10.
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Nacozari smelter’s emissions within a year. Leading up to these events, numerous influential stakeholders had voiced their belief that smelter emissions caused acid rain across the West. Among these were the governor of Arizona and national legislators from the state, who theoretically might have been the most difficult to convince based on Chris Bernabo’s principle that “the degree of scientific certainty demanded is proportional to the cost of doing something about it.”119 Although the EPA maintained its wait-and-see strategy about acid rain, high-level denial of the smelter and acid rain link was weak outside of industry advocacy groups, as demonstrated by the Congressional hearings on the topic.
However, the regulatory machinations were complex, and multiple factors led to control of the smelters. In brief, after attempts by Phelps Dodge to secure a Congressional NSO extension failed, “The effort to operate Douglas indefinitely ran up against two new realities: a stiffening regulatory climate and the fact that the EPA and the state of Arizona were now running on parallel tracks with respect to enforcement,” according to John Wirth.120 In 1985 the EPA rejected the company’s stopgap emissions-control proposals as inadequate for protecting the NAAQS. Arizona then refused to issue a state permit in 1986 because of the smelter’s past violations and lack of a comprehensive emissions-control plan. Testimony about the smelter’s local health impacts—an issue pressed by EDF—played a prominent role at EPA hearings on the NSO extension. The EPA was also concerned that extending the Douglas NSO would threaten its agreement with Mexico to control the
119 Oreskes and Conway, Merchants of Doubt, 76-77.
120 Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 194-197.
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Nacozari smelter’s emissions. “The July 1985 agreement with Mexico on the smelters was the catalyst that brought all these strands together,” says Wirth. “What finally shut Douglas down was a framework that everyone could use and from which Phelps Dodge could find no extrication.”121
The existence of these various reasons also enabled the EPA to close the Douglas smelter and negotiate with Mexico over Nacozari without having to abandon the Reagan administration’s strategy of denying certainty about acid rain. Immediately after the Douglas closure, High Country News said, “The Southwest acid rain dispute appears to show that acid rain is too abstract a problem to influence policy or politicians or even the courts.” Further it reported, “[EDF’s Robert] Yuhnke says Douglas wasn’t closed by acid rain — it was closed by health issues. Similarly, the Mexican-U.S. agreement speaks of the need to protect health in the border area rather than to stop acid rain.”122 These judgements focused on the immediate, direct mechanisms of closure, which is why they downplayed the impacts of the acid rain issue.
Yet acid rain concerns played a complicated and meaningful role in these events. Various federal lawmakers had lobbied the EPA during the Douglas NSO process, including Colorado legislators concerned about acid rain. Looking back, John Wirth believes that “the argument that stung the most during the years leading to shutdown was Yuhnke’s linkage of the Arizona and Sonora smelters with acidic deposition in the Rocky Mountains. The health
121 Ibid.
122 Marston, “The West Cleans Up,” 11.
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impairment of asthmatics, while deftly argued, was probably less important.”123 In addition, from 1979 to 1987, Phelps Dodge had multiple opportunities to seek regulatory relief. The final EPA/Arizona process leading to the Douglas smelter’s closure was not the whole story. Public fears about acid rain helped stave off the legislative “assault on the Clean Air Act” and sink an NSO extension attempt in 1983.124 Later, acid rain concerns might have helped keep Congress from using legislation to override EPA and Arizona control of the NSO process, which New Mexico Governor Anaya saw as “a dangerous possibility” in 1985.125 For example, Wyoming Representative Richard Cheney, who “saw acid rain as both a threat to Wyoming’s lakes and as an opportunity to sell low-sulfur Wyoming coal,” “helped block the copper industry’s attempt to extend the shut-down deadline beyond 1988,” according to High Country News126 The concerns voiced by numerous western leaders about Nacozari had an acid rain component, and the resulting Nacozari negotiations factored heavily in the Douglas closure and the control of Nacozari itself. Thus, for many, the connection between smelter emissions and acid rain had become a reality, and acceptance of this reality contributed to action.
123 Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 169.
124 Ibid., 153, 169, 198.
125 House, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West, 8.
126 Marston, “The West Cleans Up,” 10-11.
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CHAPTER IV
CONCLUSIONS
Between 1979 and 1987, a combination of scientific evidence, advocacy, and political interests persuaded numerous key stakeholders that southwestern smelters contributed to acid rain in distant areas across the West. These three elements of persuasion (evidence, advocacy, and interests) were inseparably intertwined, but interests played the most important role. The Environmental Defense Fund and WRI produced peer-reviewed scientific research and a scientific synthesis linking the smelters with acid rain, and they publicized this evidence effectively. At the same time, industrial groups attacked the evidence of a link and the credibility of the environmental groups, while federal government agencies emphasized the uncertainty surrounding the issue. Influential western stakeholders had ample opportunity to reject the link on these grounds. However, few chose to do so.
Even many political leaders in Arizona—where the highest-emitting U.S. smelter was located—accepted the smelter and acid rain link, which says more about their political interests than about an ironclad scientific case or overwhelming advocacy.
Scientific evidence linking smelter emissions to acid rain during the 1979-1987 period built on preexisting scientific knowledge. The case against the smelters benefited from the knowledge about acid rain and SO2 emissions established through more than a century of research in Europe and eastern North America. Because the primacy of smelters as SO2 emitters in the West was well known, and previous research implicated their emissions in local damage and the formation of regional haze, the smelters were a likely culprit from early on.
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The original research from EDF and the synthesis report from WRI became the most important sources of evidence implicating the smelters. The EDF study suggested a direct link between smelter emissions and sulfate concentrations in precipitation across the Rocky Mountain states. The WRI report brought together existing knowledge about acid rain in the West, putting smelters at the top of the major SO2 sources. Science published the EDF study and reviewed the WRI report favorably—imparting credibility to both pieces. Both pieces also received significant coverage in the regional and national media, and various stakeholders cited one or both during the acid rain debate. The WRI report received particularly widespread attention. In his history of the ozone layer controversy of the 1980s, Edward Parson argues that scientific assessments—restatements of existing scientific knowledge or novel syntheses—were “of decisive importance.” Such assessments, he says, “did move major actors to change positions, resolve debates over contested policy-relevant claims, and stimulate the formation of policy coalitions.”127 The WRI report served a similar purpose during the western acid rain debate, although, as argued below, its influence was less decisive.
Still, scientific uncertainties presented ample opportunity to question the link between smelters and acid rain. Academic research provided evidence of significant NOx contributions to acid rain in alpine areas, indicating that smelters were not the only source and, at least in some areas, likely were not even the largest source. The EPA consistently highlighted uncertainties about all facets of acid rain research in the West, in accord with the Reagan administration’s approach to the broader acid rain debate. However, scientists in
127 Edward A. Parson, Protecting the Ozone Layer: Science and Strategy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 248, 251.
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other, less political federal agencies noted the uncertainties as well. As late as 1985, for example, prominent USGS hydrologist John Turk questioned the existence of regional acidification due to SO2 from any source. Industry groups presented evidence contradicting the link between smelters and acid rain, and they questioned whether a problem existed at all. In fact stakeholders on all sides broadly agreed that little or no evidence of acid rain damage existed in western areas of concern. This observation brought into the debate the past, when western acid rain research was lacking, and the future, which was inherently uncertain. If no damage existed, industry argued, how could smelters be contributing harmful amounts of pollution—especially because smelters had emitted far more SO2 in past decades? Industry also claimed that industrial emitters throughout the West were getting cleaner over time, so acid rain would pose even less of a threat in the future. This reasoning countered the environmentalist vision of increased acidification driven by accelerating western industrial development pushing vulnerable ecosystems over a damage threshold.
Effective advocacy helped EDF, WRI, and their allies link the smelters with acid rain, whereas advocacy in defense of the smelters was much less effective. The environmental organizations successfully embedded their narrative in the media, made their studies go-to resources for numerous stakeholders, and directly influenced key policymakers. As the environmentalist narrative took hold, some policymakers adopted it as part of their own advocacy campaigns against extending smelter emissions waivers. EDF and WRI were effective because they focused on the smelter issue with purpose and urgency. Although they knew coal-fired power plants and cars were contributing acid-forming pollution as well, they did not wait until all the precise source-receptor relationships were worked out before calling for action on the smelters, in contrast to the approach taken by some federal government
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scientists and agencies. Industry advocacy aimed at derailing the dominant smelter narrative was fragmented and comparatively ineffective, failing to gain widespread media attention or backing from other witnesses at the Congressional hearings on acid rain in the West. Industry’s lack of scientific credibility may have played a role. The scientific arguments advanced by the WRC and Copper Smelter Information Committee received no scientific endorsement similar to that received by EDF and WRI through their coverage in Science.
The involvement of EDF and WRI in both generating evidence and advocating policy solutions could have undermined the credibility of these organizations’ message, but it did not. In contrast, during the debate about acid rain in eastern North America, some policymakers and advocacy groups criticized scientists severely for crossing the line between scientific research and policy prescription. For example, in 1981 EDF’s Michael Oppenheimer testified “as a scientist” in support of acid rain legislation before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health and the Environment. In response, legislators from Pennsylvania and West Virginia attacked his association with an environmental group perceived as anti-nuclear and anti-coal.128 It would have been easy for, say, Arizona policymakers to attack WRI and EDF similarly, especially because the key scientific evidence and synthesis supporting the link between smelters and acid rain came from these environmental groups. Indeed the Copper Smelter Information Committee accused the organizations of political bias and false science, and the WRC questioned their conclusions. Yet, beyond the attacks from those obvious enemies, the credibility of WRI and
128 Aim, Crossing Borders, 10, 61-62, 80, 103, 115, 129.
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EDF received remarkably little scrutiny during the two Congressional hearings about acid rain in the West, which were perfect opportunities to raise such issues.
Key stakeholders accepted the evidence linking smelters to acid rain—and rejected pro-industry arguments—primarily because of political interests. All the western policymakers who prominently accepted the link between smelters and acid rain had identifiable political interests in seeing smelter emissions controlled. Even Arizona’s politicians, who had protected the state’s copper industry for decades, came to see the remaining uncontrolled smelters as a blight. With constituent support, they wanted to clear southern Arizona’s air, make way for alternative industries, and gain leverage in the negotiations with Mexico over the Nacozari smelter. Governor Babbitt also sought to punish Phelps Dodge for the recent strike debacle. Thus the threshold of persuasion on the acid rain issue was relatively low, even for these recent smelter allies. At the same time, the uncontrolled smelters had few political friends remaining by the mid-1980s, so few important stakeholders accepted their defense or attacked the acid rain narrative advanced by EDF and WRI. More broadly, according to John Wirth, “their physical and social isolation made the smelters a target for environmental activists and regulators more readily than, say, the electric power industry or for that matter the petroleum-based automobile culture that still holds America in thrall. In practical terms, it was easier to control single-source polluters like copper smelters.”129 Looking back, the timing of the acid rain issue was also fortuitous for the advocates of smelter control. The issue came along just as Arizona was becoming willing to rein in its most polluting industry.
129 Wirth, Smelter Smoke, 137.
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The contrast between the western smelter episode and the acid rain controversy in eastern North America highlights the dominance of interests in persuading stakeholders about scientific evidence. In the East, scientific evidence for acid rain was much more developed by the mid-1980s, but interest-based resistance was much fiercer, and this resistance raised the persuasion bar out of reach for many. “Despite the efforts of some of the most highly respected scientists in the acid rain field of study, the adequacy and credibility of the scientific findings were continually questioned,” says political scientist Leslie Aim. “At no time during the debate did policy makers, as a whole, accept the idea that scientific consensus existed on either the causes or effects of acid rain. The final acid rain policy established by the United States [under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990] came about slowly and, according to most observers, the science (and scientists) played an important, but questionable, role.”130 Had Arizona’s leaders been more committed to the uncontrolled smelters, they might have strived to create similar roadblocks. There were clear opportunities to attack the certainty and credibility of the science. Perhaps, instead of abandoning Phelps Dodge, Governor Babbitt might have echoed the Ohio governor’s 1981 assertions that acid rain was not serious, his state’s employment was more important than far-off fish, and the pollution was someone else’s fault.131 Yet political interests in Arizona and surrounding states aligned more closely with the interests of smelter-control advocates, and thus important politicians accepted the scientific evidence more readily. “Politics has dominated, and will continue to dominate all aspects of the linkage of science to policy,” according to
130 Aim, Crossing Borders, 114, 125.
131 Gavin, “Lamm’s Tough Acid Rain Stand,” 6.
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Aim.132 This statement likely applies to the 1980s debate about smelters and acid rain in the West.
Western concern about acid rain fell after the Douglas smelter’s closure in early 1987. From 1983 through 1986, for example, the Denver Post published 48 articles mentioning acid rain, averaging one article per month. From 1987 through 1990, it only published 16, averaging one article every three months, even with the coverage surrounding the national story about the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. This western trend differed from the national trend focused on the eastern half of the country. The number of New York Times articles mentioning acid rain was about the same in the 1983-1986 and 1987-1990 periods.133
Concern about western acid rain likely fell because events suggested that threats had declined. Closure of the Douglas smelter and the 1988 installation of emissions controls on the Nacozari smelter—and on the last uncontrolled smelter, Magma’s operation in San Manuel, Arizona—indicated that the smelter problem had been mitigated. In 1988, for example, EDF’s Robert Yuhnke said cleaning up the smelters reduced western SO2 emissions by 55% compared with 1981 levels. In addition, some of the industrial development on which environmentalists based their projections of future acid rain hazards,
132 Aim, Crossing Borders, 125.
133 Publication counts are based on Denver Post indexes and the Proquest New York Times database.
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such as oil shale development in Colorado, did not materialize.134 Reinforcing perceptions that risks had decreased, results of studies from the EPA and a Colorado acid rain task force suggested that acid rain had not yet damaged western environments. “Acid Rain No Crisis but a Concern,” read the Denver Post’s headline about the Colorado study.135 “E.P. A. Finds Lakes of West Are Free of Acid Rain,” said the New York Times about the EPA study.136 High Country News linked the EPA study with the smelter controls: “The EPA has found that no lakes in the Rockies are currently polluted by acid rain. The closure of Douglas and the controls on other smelters means that those lakes may be safe for quite a while.”137 This type of coverage suggested that the West’s acid rain problem largely had been solved, although western newspapers continued to publish occasional articles about acid rain threats.138 In the mid-1990s, for example, concern arose about acid rain in northern Colorado’s Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area and its links to power plants in Utah and Colorado.139
134 Janet Day, “U.S. Disputes Pollution Laws: Acid Rain Threat Not Yet Resolved, Says Forest Service,” Rocky Mountain News, May 7, 1988, 7.
135 Neil Westergaard, “Acid Rain No Crisis but a Concern, Study Says,” Denver Post, April 22, 1986, B3.
136 Philip Shabecoff, “E.P. A. Finds Lakes of West Are Free of Acid Rain,” New York Times, January 16, 1987, A13.
137 Marston, “West Cleans Up,” 11.
138 David Wann, “Acid Snow: Winter Clouds Bear Seeds of Ruin for High-Country Lakes, Wilderness?” Denver Post, March 22, 1987, FI, F3; Denver Post Washington Bureau, “Survey: Acid Rain Peril Less Out West,” Denver Post, July 27, 1987, D3; Mark Obmaskic, “Scientist Fears Signs Point to Acid Snow,” Denver Post, July 24, 1988, A1.
139 Brent Israelsen, “Utah Utility Takes Aim at Colorado Air,” High Country News, May 2, 1994.
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Broader national interest in acid rain dropped sharply after 1990, when Congress passed acid rain provisions within the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. The number of New York Times articles mentioning acid rain fell by 60 percent from 1990 to 1991 and declined much further in subsequent years. At the same time, the scientific community that had developed around the acid rain problem “shrank to a shell of its former self,” according to Kenneth Wilkening.140 Further, he says, “The lack of support for research is most directly attributable to the lack of well-documented evidence of large-scale damage of the sort found in Europe,” even though some scientists believe the problem “may yet reassert itself.”141
Thus, generally speaking, acid rain as a political and public scientific issue in the United States arose around 1979, peaked in the mid-1980s, and waned in the early 1990s. Within that period, key western stakeholders accepted the scientific evidence for the link between acid rain and smelters—and used that evidence to promote mitigation activities— several years before the federal government enacted a broad acid rain mitigation policy after a debate marked by staunch resistance to acid rain science. The alignment of regional interests with scientific evidence made the western actions possible.
Today, the dynamics linking scientific evidence, advocacy, and interests at various levels of government and society are playing out in relation to another sweeping environmental controversy—climate change. Climate change started to become a major U.S. issue in the late 1980s. Since then, interest-based resistance to the evidence linking climate change to human activities has increased at the national level, even as the science itself has
140
141
Wilkening, “Localizing Universal,” 225.
Ibid.
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become more certain.142 Yet, in the absence of meaningful federal climate policy, numerous states and cities are taking action. California, for example, has assumed a leading role, with the government “unequivocally” accepting climate science and linking climate impacts to the state’s economy and environment. Accordingly, the state is working to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 through various initiatives. New York City has relied on scientific evidence to identify climate-related threats as well as develop aggressive emissions-reduction and climate-adaption goals. It is also one of a dozen large U.S. cities participating in C40, a global network of cities collaborating to drive action on climate change.143 Many other climate initiatives are underway across all levels of government and society worldwide. These include the global Paris Agreement signed by almost every national government in 2015. United States President Donald Trump, however, has signaled his intention to withdraw from the agreement while promoting fossil fuel interests and dismantling U.S. climate change policies.144
142 Steinberg, Down to Earth, 287-296; Hughes, Environmental History, 259-263.
143 California Environmental Protection Agency, Climate Change Research Plan for California (Sacramento: California Environmental Protection Agency, 2015), 3; “California Climate Strategy,” State of California, accessed May 4, 2018,
http://www.climatechange.ca.gov; “Statewide Response to Climate Change,” State of California, accessed May 4, 2018, http://www.climatechange.ca.gov/state; City of New York, “Mayor de Blasio Releases NPCC 2015 Report, Providing Climate Projections Through 2100 for the First Time,” news release, February 17, 2015; “About C40,” C40, accessed May 4, 2018, http://www.c40.org/about.
144 Michael D. Shear, “Trump Will Withdraw U.S. From Paris Climate Agreement,” New York Times, June 1, 2017, https://www.nytimes.eom/2017/06/01/climate/trump-paris-climate-agreement.html; Coral Davenport and Alissa J. Rubin, “Trump Signs Executive Order Unwinding Obama Climate Policies,” New York Times, March 28, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/28/climate/trump-executive-order-climate-change.html.
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The all-encompassing nature of climate change makes the interplay among evidence, advocacy, and interests even more convoluted than it was during the regional acid rain conflicts of the 1980s, and there are many differences between the two issues overall. Yet the history of smelters and acid rain in the West may offer insights applicable to the climate change debate. The western events of the 1980s demonstrate that political interests can promote understanding and mitigation of transborder pollution. Scientific evidence and environmental advocacy informed those interests, but so did numerous other contextual factors unique to each stakeholder at particular times and places. Those interests influenced acceptance of scientific evidence as well as advocacy activities in an iterative feedback loop. When striving to persuade diverse stakeholders today, advocates of climate change mitigation policies might do well to embrace the complex, even paradoxical attributes of this process rather than relying on the scientific evidence alone.
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Full Text

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NO SMOKING GUN : ROLES OF SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE , ADVOCACY, AND POLITICAL INTERESTS IN LINKING SMELTER EMISSIONS WITH ACID RAIN IN THE WESTERN UNITED STATES, 1979 1987 b y JARETT ZUBOY B.S., Colorado State University, 1997 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts History Program 2018

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ii © 2018 JARETT ZUBOY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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iii This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by Jarett Zuboy has been approved for the History Program by John Whitesides , Chair Pamela W. Laird Dale J. Stahl Date: December 15, 2018

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iv Zuboy, Jarett (MA, History) No Smoking Gun : Roles o f Scientific Evidence , Advocacy, a nd Political Interests i n Linking Smelter Emissions w ith Acid Rain i n t he Western United States, 1979 1987 Thesis directed by Assistant Professor John Whitesides ABSTRACT This study explores the controversy over copper smelters and acid rain in the w est ern United States between 1979 and 1987. The results suggest that a combination of scientific evidence , advocacy, and political interests persuaded numerous key stakeholders that southwestern smelters contributed to acid rain in distant areas across the West. The se three elements of persuasion ( evidence , advocacy, and interests) were inseparably intertwined, but interests played the most important role. Environmental non gover nmental organizations produced p eer reviewed scientific research and a scientific synthesis link ing the smelters with acid rain , and they publicized this evidence effectively . At the same time, industrial groups attacked the evidence of a link and the cred ibility of the environmental groups, while federal government agencies emphasized the uncertainty surrounding the issue. I nfluential western stakeholders had ample opportunity to reject the link on these grounds. However, few chose to do so. Even many poli tical leaders in Arizona where the highest emitting U.S. smelter was located accepted the smelter and acid rain link, which says more about their political interests than about an ironclad scientific case or overwhelming advocacy. The form and content of t his abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Approved: John Whitesides

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v DEDICATION I thank my committee for their support. Greg, I could not have had a better thesis advisor. You stuck with me when it seemed I would never pick a topic much less complete the work and you spurred me to useful action whenever I became mired in rumination. I value your teaching and all of our fun, wide ranging conversations. I also appreciate your mountain lion too! Pam, literally from day one (oh so many years ago) you h ave been a great mentor to me at CU Denver. As you note in Pull , the benefits of mentorship include education, guidance, moral support, inspiration, an example to follow, and access to otherwise invisible opportunities. Thank you for giving me all these an d more. And thank you for bringing me into your own work, from which I have learned so much. Dale, I appreciate your contributions both to my comprehensive exam committee and my thesis committee. You have always provided unique, thoughtful, and important persp ectives. I wish our times at CU Denver had overlapped more. I also thank my parents, Jim and Joan, although I cannot express how much you have done for me. Besides endless love and support, you have given me everything I need to succeed in the historical c ontext to which I was born. I am eternally grateful. Finally, I thank my wife Julie. You are the love of my life and my best friend. You understand my ways and know how to be there for me . You are also my inspiration, challenging yourself every day to reach the highest standards of excellence and integrity. I could not have done this without you.

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vi CONTENTS CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 1 II. HISTORICAL CONTEXT ................................ ................................ ....................... 5 Acid Rain Awakening ................................ ................................ .............................. 5 Environmentalism and U.S. Environ mental Policy ................................ .................. 8 U.S. Acid Rain Politics in the 1980s ................................ ................................ ...... 12 Smelter Pollution and the West ................................ ................................ .............. 16 Scale, Damage, and Vuln erability in the Western Acid Rain Debate .................... 21 III. LINKING SMELTERS WITH WESTERN ACID RAIN: FROM UNCERTAIN SCIENTISTS TO CONVINCED POLIC YMAKERS, 1979 1987 ....................... 23 Early Lack of Scientific Evidence Drove Uncertainty ................................ ........... 23 Preexisting Knowledge Helped Link Smelters with Acid Rain ............................. 29 EDF and WRI Provided Evidence about Smelters and Acid Rain in the West ..... 35 ...... 43 The Mexican Smelter Threat Changed U.S. Interests and Beliefs Related to Acid Rain ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ 46 Federal Agencies Emphasized Scientific Uncertainty ................................ ........... 52 Industry Stakeholders Failed to Derail the Acid Rain Narrative ............................ 54 State and Federal Policymakers Acted as Audiences and Advocates .................... 60 Acid Rain Concerns Contri buted to the Control of U.S. and Mexican Smelters ... 65

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vii IV. CONCLUSIONS ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 69 BIBLIOGRAPHY ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 80

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viii ABBREVIATIONS CLRTAP Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution EDF Environmental Defense Fund EPA U.S. Environmental Protection Agency NAAQS national ambient air quality standards NO x nitrogen oxides NSO non ferrous smelter order SIP state implementation plan SO 2 sulfur dioxide USGS U.S. Geological Survey WRC Western Regional Council WRI World Resources Institute

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1 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Acid rain was a major North American environmental controversy during the 1980s . 1 The basic story related to the eastern half of the continent is now relatively well known. Acid forming air pollution emanated from industrial operations particularly from coal fired power plants in the U.S. Midwest traveled long distances through the atmosphere, precipitated in the U.S. Northeast and Canada , and damaged or threatened vulnerable ecosystems . Yet at the time various stakeholders doubted every aspect of this narrative. A seemingly scientific question became political dynamite, pitting U.S. regions against each other, Canada against the U nited States , en vironmentalists against industrial interests , and the Executive Branch against Congress. Scie ntists became embroiled in advocacy and policy debates , leading some observers to question whether the entire scientific enterprise had been corrupted. When U.S. legislation to reduce acid forming pollution emerged, it was almost a decade after prestigious scientists and scientific organizations beg a n recommending such a policy . 2 Less well known is the acid rain story that unfolded on the western side of the continent. In 1979, scientists were surprised to discover evidence of acid rain in mounta ins, and at first they could only speculate about its source. As various source candidates emerged over time, the media, policymakers, and interest groups singled out the 1 For brevity, t he term ghout this study to encompass acidic inputs deposited via rain, snow, fog, or dry deposition, unless otherwise specified. 2 Leslie R. Alm, Crossing Borders, Crossing Boundaries: The Role of Scientists in the U.S. Acid Rain Debate (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2000), 114 115.

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2 most potent likely culprit : copper smelters in the southwestern U nited States and Sonora, Mexico. Yet many scientific questions remained. Acid rain monitoring and research in the West were extremely limited compared with the monitoring and research in the East. Environmental groups and industry groups rushed to fill the voids in th e narrative with their own evidence and advocacy. National and state policymakers joined the debate, which also became internationalized when Mexico announced plans to build a large new smelter without emissions controls near the Arizona border. After seve ral years of controversy, the largest uncontrolled smelter in the U nited States closed i n 1987, and the new Mexican smelter installed controls a year later. Interest in the western acid rain issue declined rapidly thereafter . This study explores t he histor y of smelters and acid rain in the West between 1979 and 1987. Specifically, it analyzes t he evol ving interactions among scientific evidence , advocacy, political interests, beliefs, and actions connecting the smelters with acid rain falling on distant area s across the West . The story of the southwestern smelters is large and multifaceted, and this study expands on two previous analyses of the topic . John Wirth employs a political focus to compare the late twentieth century conflict over the southwestern sme lters with the early twentieth century conflict over the Trail smelter in British Columbia. 3 Stephanie Capaldo uses a cultural lens to examine the smelter related environmental debates across the U.S. Mexican border, including the changing conceptions 3 John D. Wirth, Smelter Smoke in North America: The Politics of Transborder Pollution (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2000).

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3 of industry and nature in the area. 4 Both studies address the linkage between the smelters and acid rain, but neither details the process by which this linkage was discovered, debated, and resolved. The present study provides that angle while building on the rich histor ies developed by Wirth and Capaldo. The study draws heavily on regional and national media sources as well as Congressional hearing transcripts and scientific reports from interest groups . Thus the history portrayed is primarily from the perspec tive of the popular media , decision makers , high profile scientists, and interest groups . Although some insights from the Arizona media are drawn from the histories by Wirth and Capaldo, the only comprehensive state based medi a De nver Post . High Country News provides a regional, environmentally leaning perspective, and the New York Times provides a national perspective (although , perhaps significantly, New York and surrounding states were enmeshed in their own acid rain controversy at the time ). The study suggests that a combination of evidence , advocacy, and interests persuaded numerous key stakeholders that southwestern smelters contributed to acid rain in distant areas across the West. The se three elements of persuasion ( evidence , advocacy, and interests) were inseparably intertwined, but interests played the most important role. Environmental non governmental organizations produced peer reviewed scientific research and a scientific synthesis link ing the smelters with acid rain , a nd they publicized this evidence effectively . At the same time, industrial groups attacked the evidence of a link and the credibility of the 4 onstruction of Environmental Narratives on the U.S. Mexico Border, 1970 of Arizona, 2013).

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4 environmental groups, while federal government agencies emphasized the uncertainty surrounding the issue. I nfluenti al western stakeholders had ample opportunity to reject the link on these grounds. However, few chose to do so. Even many political leaders in Arizona where the highest emitting U.S. smelter was located accepted the smelter and acid rain link, which says m ore about their political interests than about an ironclad scientific case or overwhelming advocacy . In the remainder of this study , Chapter II provides context for understanding the broader histories of acid rain, environmentalism , U.S. environmental poli cy, acid rain politics in the 1980s, the southwestern smelter industry , and other aspects of the western acid rain debate . Chapter III contains hi storical analysis arranged broadly chronologically starting in 1979 and ending in 1987 and by theme and stakeh older to highlight the roles of various groups and to differentiate the effects of evidence , advocacy, and interests. Chapter IV offers conclusions and p rovides an epilogue related to smelters and acid rain in the West.

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5 CHAPTER II HISTORICAL CONTEXT Acid Rain Awakening Scientists first sounded the alarm about acid rain in the Rocky Mountains in the late 1970s , but the recorded history of acid rain goes back much further. Europeans knew about naturally occurring acid rain during the Renaissance, and ob servers in the British Midlands and central Germany recognized that anthropogenic pollution caused acid rain in the nineteenth century . 5 European scientists spearhead ed the development of acid deposition science between 1850 and 1967. s Smith was at the forefront of this work, creating a basic acid deposition model in the mid Although European scientists continued to research the issue over the next century, it was not until 1967 that Swed ish soil scientist picture of a long range, transboundary, multiple impact acid deposition problem to i nternational studies scholar Kenneth Wilkening . Odén and other scientists who supported his work also publicized the issue and warned about the threat of transboundary acid rain, 6 5 Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to G lobal Warming (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2010), 66 67 . 6 Science and Politics in the International Environment , ed. Neil E. Ha rrison and Gary C. Bryner (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004) , 214 215 .

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6 The ensuing acid rain debate catalyzed Sweden to propose what became the 1972 U nited Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm , where Swedish scientists presented a synthesis of acid rain knowledge . 7 However, the United Kingdom and West Germany which Odén and colleagues identified as the primary sources of transboundary acidifying pollution in Scandinavia resisted immediate action owing to a lack of scientific consensus or perceived domestic benefits. Nevertheless, calls by Norway, Sweden, and the USSR ( as part of its détente strategy ) for a transboundary pollution convention eventually led to the 1979 Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP) . Developed under the auspices of the U nited Nations Economic Commission for Europe , CLRTAP was irst internationally binding agreement to deal with air pollution at a broad, region al level , according to political scientist Miranda Schreurs . 8 Scheduled to come into effect in 1983, CLRTAP called for economically feasible emission reductions, monitoring, reporting, and research, but it was essentially toothless. Signers included all m ajor Western European states, the USSR and many of its satellites, the European Community, Canada, and the United States. Little immediate action resulted. 9 The year CLRTAP was signed was also a major year for publicity about acid rain in the United States . In 1979 biologist Gene L ikens and colleagues presented the causes and effects of North American a cid rain in Scientific American , a magazine known for explaining 7 Wilkening, Acid in the Environment: Lessons Learned and Future Prospects , ed. Ger ald R. Visgilio and Diana M. Whitelaw (New York: Springer, 2007), 119. 8 9 Ibid.

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7 established science to the general public. The magazine editors brief introduction to the a sharply over wide areas. The principal cause is the release of sulfur and nitrogen by the burning of fossil fuels . 10 confident claims resulted from years of study centered on the U.S. Research on the local effects of acid rain in North America had been conducted during the first half of the twentieth century, parti and s Sudbury smelters. The identification of a regional acid rain problem, however, relied on the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem study started in 1963 by U.S. Forest Service scientist Robert Pierce, biology professor F. Herbert Bormann, geologist Noye Johnson, and Gene Likens. These scientists observed acidic precipitation at Hubbard Brook but initially assumed only a localized effect. After Likens traveled to Sweden in the late 1960s and talked with Odén and others, however, he suspected Hubbard Brook was part of a regional acid rain problem in North America. Likens and his colleagues confirmed the regional scale of the problem by taking precipitation chemistry measurements in central New York and ga thering all previous measurements from throughout the United States . In 1972 the team warned in Environment that North America faced an acid rain A 1974 Science article by Likens and Bormann showed acid 10 Scientific American quoted in Oreskes and Conway, Merchants of Doubt , 72 73.

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8 precipitation was falling on most of the U.S. Northeast , the problem apparently had existed for decades, and it was associated with the introduction of tall smokestacks in the Midwest. 11 Subsequently U.S. and Canad ian scientists rapidly expanded North American acid both countries through media and political activities . Political support for research increased, especially a fter the election of Democrat Jimmy Carter to the U.S. presidency in 1976. The mid 1970s saw the establishment of the Canadian Network for Sampling Precipitation and the U.S. National Atmospheric Deposition Program. By 1980, scientists from both countries had clarified the eastern North Am erican acid deposition problem not finding the type of widespread ecosystem damage experienced by Scandinavia, but demonstrating such damage was possible. 12 Within a few years , acid rain was all over the front pages of new spapers , according to historian Stephanie Capaldo . 13 Environmentalism and U.S. Environmental Policy The growing scientific and public awareness of acid rain in the United States coincided with the rise of the modern environmental movement . Many historians note the Silent Spring to spurring this movement . 14 Originally 11 221 222; Oreskes and Conway, Merchants of Doubt , 66, 68. 12 223. 13 Capaldo, Smoke and Mirrors, 231 . 14 For example, see J.R. McNeill, Something New under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth Century World (New York: Norton, 2000), 337 339; J. Donald Hughes, An

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9 published in 1962, Silent Spring examined the pervasive impacts of the pesticide DDT and emphasized the interconnectedness of nature and human so ciety. T his ecological perspective became the hallmark of modern environmentalism , differentiating it from earlier environmental efforts focused on preserving particular natural areas. This shift in perspective had important implications for environmental policy and the role of science . Preservationist environmentalism depended on the aesthetic, moral, and recreational values attached to local areas . Ecological environmentalism , in contrast, called for science based government regulation over wide areas of geography and human activity . Major U.S. executive and legislative initiatives in the late 1960s and early 1970s reflected t he shift from preservationist to ecological environmentalism , including creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and passage of the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Air Act, and Clean Water Act all undertaken under Republican President Richard Nixon . 15 The C lean Air Act of 1970 had a critical impact on the North American acid rain issu e and on the w estern issue in particular . The act established national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for specific pollutants such as sulfur dioxide ( SO 2 ) and particulates from smelters and required the development of state implementation plans (SIP s), which were subject to EPA approval . The NAAQS had three elements. The primary standard targeted attainment by 1975 of air quality levels that protected human health. The secondary (New York: Routledge, 2009), 193; Ted Steinberg, American History (New York: Oxf ord University Press, 2013), 247 248. 15 Oreskes and Conway, Merchants of Doubt , 67 68 ; Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 105 106 .

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10 standard called for achieving air quality that protected public welfare a designation including broader environmental criteria within a reasonable period after 1975. 16 The nondeterioration standard was meant to guarantee that pollution did not significantly degrade clean air that already surpassed the primary and secondary stan dards. Under the SIP requirement, states had to establish individual source emission limits, compliance schedules, control technology requirements, and methods for monitoring and enforcement. The EPA could require SIP revisions based on new scientific and engineering knowledge of air pollution. 17 The Clean Air Act of 1970 institutionalized environmental values , representing a radical departure from earlier ways of addressing air pollution in the United States . Previously, for example, a smelter business could n egotiate a pollution issue through a combination of selectively reducing emissions and making payments to parties directly harmed by the emissions, such as farmers who suffered crop damage. Under the Clea n Air Act of 1970, however, such a polluter would be forced to consider public health and welfare criteria in addition to traditional cost benefit factors. Thus, according to political scientist Helen Ingram , of air qu ality, restricted to what was economically and technologically feasible, was abandoned, and clean air was legislated a 16 crops, vegetation, man made materials, anim al welfare, weather, visibility and climate, damage to or deterioration of property and hazards to transportation, as well as effects on Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 1 42. 17 Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 1 42.

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11 fundamental national value . 18 The Clean Air Act also provided for new transparency and participation of the public and nongovernmental or ganizations in pollution debates . 19 Among the pollutants regulated under the C lean Air Act of 1970, SO 2 and nitrogen oxides ( NO x ) are particularly relevant to the history of acid rain in the West. SO 2 in the atmosphere has resulted primarily from the combus tion of fossil fuels by power plants and other industrial facilities and secondarily from industrial processes like metal smelting, natural sources such as volcanoes, and the emissions of heavy vehicles and equipment burn ing high sulfur fuels. SO 2 has harmful effects on human respiratory health, plant health via gaseous exposure, ecological health via sulfuric acid rain, visibility, and some materials such as those used in statues and monuments. The main sources of atmospheric NO x have included emi ssions from motor vehicles, power plants, and off road equipment. Copper smelters produce little NO x . 20 NO x harms respiratory health, ecological health via nitric acid rain, visibility, and coastal waters via nutrient pollution. Although various stakeholder s argued in the 1980s about the relationships among SO 2 and NO x sources, transport, and deposition especially in relation to acid rain the scientifi c basis for the harmful effects of these chemicals had been established before this period . 21 18 Q u ote from Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 143 . 19 Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 105 106, 143 . 20 Philip Roth, Charles Blanchard, John Harte, Harvey Michaels, and Mohamed El Ashry, (Washington, DC: World Resources Institute, 1985), 23 . 21 Sulfur Dioxide Basics 2018, https://www.epa.gov/so2 pollution/sulfur dioxide basics Basic Information about NO 2

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12 U.S. Acid Rain Politics in the 1980s The story of smelters and acid rain in th e West took place in the 1980s, when U.S. environmental ideologies and policies and the science supporting them clashed with the new conservatism championed by Republican President Ronald Reagan. As historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway put it, Reagan both environmental preservation and environmental regulation, a position that would separate the party from its historic environmentalism, and put it on a collision course with science . 22 Reagan attempted to roll back many environmental protections and install anti environment leaders in key positions, such as Ann Gorsuch Burford as EPA administrator and James Wat t as secretary of the interior. 23 Bolstered by polls showing most Americans supported increased environmental protections, the U.S. Congress resisted attacks on the environment , such as by stopping oil and gas development in the A rctic National Wildlife Refuge. Democrats controlled the House of Representatives throughout the 1980s, whereas Republicans controlled the Senate from the beginning of 1981 through the end of 1986. Although Democrats promoted environmental protection more than Republicans did , the partisan divide on environmental issues was not as wide as it would become in subsequent decades, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, accessed May 4, 2018, https://www.epa.gov/no2 pollution/basic information about no2 . 22 Oreskes and Conway, Merchants of Dou bt , 67. 23 Benjamin Kline, First Along the River: A Brief History of the U.S. Environmental Movement (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011), 113 128.

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13 and some Republican legislators sought solutions to acid rain problem s . 24 Congress made several unsuccessful attempts in the 1980s to include acid rain protections in an amend ed C lean Air Act . Such acid rain provisions would not be enacted until the C lean Air Act Amendments of 1990 . 25 Although the western acid rain issue had some regional , national, and international significance during the 1980s, the acid rain issue that drove U.S. politics centered on the Midwest and Northeast. Numerous p ower plants in the Midwest burned high sulfur coal and emitted enormous amounts of SO 2 . Based on a 1982 estimate published in the Denver Post , full operation of the copper smelters in the South west would produce 1.2 million tons of SO 2 annually, compared with annual emissions of 20 to 30 million tons from industrial heartland along the Ohio River Valley . 26 Because of the research of Likens and others, acid rain in the Northeast was well studied, and scientific evidence for the source receptor relationship between the Midwest and Northeast increased throughout the 1980s. Northeasterners and their representatives pushed for legislation to reduce acid rain. Yet the Reagan administratio n backed by the coal and electric power industries consistently maintained that more research was needed before regulatory action could be taken. 24 For example, see Dan Whipple Acid Precipitation: Rain, Rain Go Away High Country News , September 17, 1982, 1, 12 13 ; Ann Schmidt Hart Introduces Bill Aimed at Acid Rain, Denver Post , October 7, 1981, C12 . 25 Kline, First Along the River , 113 128; Margaret R. Taylor, Edward S. Rubin, and David A. Hounshell , 2 E missions from P ower P lants: A Case o f Induced Technological Innovation in the U.S. , Technological Forecasting & Social Change 72 (2005) : 697 718. 26 Jack Cox Lobbying Push Expected on West Air Health Issue Denver Post , September 26, 1982, B1, B12 .

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14 Merchants of Doubt , by Oreskes and Conway, elaborates on the people and strategies behind this high level ques tioning of the persuasiveness of acid rain science while linking them to similar efforts used to stall action on atmospheric ozone depletion, the health impacts of tobacco smoke, and climate change . 27 High Country News summarized its interpretation of the national acid rain conflict in 1982: The coal industry notwithstanding, virtually everyone agrees that a reduction in SO 2 emissions in the East will reduce the acid precipitation problem. The question is, There is no basis for a contention that a certain percentage reduction in S O 2 will result in a certain reduction in the acidity of precipitation. The debate then centers around whether the cure is worth the cost. Environmentalists say it is, the utilities and coal t, and the scientist t know. 28 These battle lines influenced the politics of acid rain throughout the 1980s. The regional nature of the dispute pitted m idwestern and n ortheastern interests against each other, with w estern interests potentially in a swi ng role. In 1981, f or example, Colorado Governor Dick Lamm proposed that tougher stance toward industrial pollution falling as acid rain on distant areas. In response, and tired of people running around talking about the Ohio River Valley , and then he went on to deny the seriousness of acid rain, insist nd New Jersey. With the outspoken support of West proposal . 29 In another instance, 27 Oreskes and Conway, M erchants of Doubt 28 Whipple Acid Precipitation 29 Tom Gavin Denver Post , February 23, 1981, 6 .

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15 prominently supported acid rain control legislation while running for presiden t in 1983, which and Northeasterners but according to the Denver Post . 30 sulfur coal also gave the region an interest in the issue . S ome western stakeholders criticized national legislative proposals favoring use of SO 2 high sulfur coal with low sulfur coal , which would hurt high sulfur coal producers in the Midwest . 31 Finally , acid rain in eastern North America had an international dimension as well . In the mid 1970s, scientists showed n ortheastern Canada suffering substantial acid induced damage due to emissions from the U.S. Midwest, but the United States received little acidifying pollution from Canada, and it ignored Canadian concerns for much of the 1980s . In 1982, an environmental conservation professor at the University of New Hampshire called Canad a relations . 32 Canada took action to reduce its own emissions and launched a creative propaganda campaign, . 33 Yet it took until 1986 for 30 Kenneth T. Walsh , Acid Rain Stand: Gamble for Hart Denver Post , March 13, 1983, A1 3 . 31 For example, see Denver Post (e ditorial Acid Rain Fight Must Begin Denver Post , July 30, 1983, B2 . 32 Whipple Acid Precipitation 33 Acid in the Environment: Lessons Learned and Future Prospects , ed. Gerald R. Visgilio and Diana M. Whitelaw (New York: Springer, 2007), 178.

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16 Reagan to endorse a $5 billion technology development progra m aimed at reducing acidifying emissions from coal plants a move that environmental groups called inadequate. 34 The tensions between the United States and Canada also influenced a newer debate about transborder pollution between the United States and Mexico , which revolved around the issue of SO 2 from copper smelters . Smelter Pollution and the W est Rich copper deposits in the southwestern United States and Sonora , Mexico , stimulated growth of a large copper smelting industry in this area beginning around th e turn of the twentieth century. In such s melter s , heat is applied to copper bearing ore to extract concentrated copper metal . Because copper ore typically contains large amounts of sulfur, copper smelting can p roduce substantial SO 2 emissions emitted copious amounts of SO 2 for decades with little hindrance. The surrounding area was sparse ly populated, the copper industry was economically and politically powerful, and no national, state, or local regulations provid ed a strong check on the environmental impact of the smelters. 35 H owever, with the passage of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1970 , it was clear that the federal government would be cracking down on sulfur dioxide emissions by copper smelters Smelters that could not meet the new performance standards for SO 2 and particulate emissions would have to modernize or shut 34 Gary Schmitz Acid Rain Program Gets OK Denver Post , March 20, 1986, A14 . 35 Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 112 141.

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17 down . 36 Subsequently t he Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977 required development of New Source Performance S tandards that would result in continuous control of SO 2 emissions a provision meant to encourage universal use of SO 2 , primarily targeting coal fired power plants. 37 In response, copper companies installed scrubbers on many of their southwestern smelters at considerable cost . 38 Yet the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977 also provided the smelter industry with a loophole in the SO 2 emissions regulations. Copper smelters could apply for no n ferrous smelter orders (NSOs), which temporarily waived the continuous control requirement until January 1983, with the option to apply for a renewed NSO effective through January 1988. Congress added this provision to the 1977 legislation to protect domestic smelters from the effects of falling copper p rices and rising foreign competition. The act also required smelters receiving an NSO to attain NAAQS via tall smokestacks and intermittent SO 2 controls. 39 During the 1980s, the controversy over smelter emissions and NSO extensions came to focus primarily o n one particular smelter: the Phelps Dodge operation in Douglas, Arizona , only six miles from the Mexican border (number 1 on Figure 1 ). Built mostly in 36 Ibid. , 130 . 37 Margaret R. Taylor The Influence of Government Actions on Innovative Activities in the Development of Environmental Technologies to Control Sulfur Dioxide Emissions from Stationary Sources Carnegie Mellon University , 2001), 45 46. 38 Ch ristopher McLeod The West is Not Immune to Acid Rain High Country News , September 3, 1984, 12 13; Capaldo, Smoke and Mirrors, 111; House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 99 th Cong., 1 st sess., 1985 , 17 . 39 Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 152.

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18 1914, the Douglas smelter continued to rely largely with no SO 2 controls or only intermittent controls. After Phelps Dodge sold or closed the nearby mines supplying Douglas with ore in the 1970s and built a C lean Air Act compliant smelter in New Mexico, the Douglas smelter no longer figured in the long term plan. Yet the smelter was profitable to operate without modern emissions controls. Therefore, Phelps Dodge kept the Douglas smelter going via regulatory stalling tactics and litigation. O ther Phelps Dodge smelters as well as the smelters of other companies , particularly the Magma operation at San Manuel (number 2 on Figure 1 ) were part of the 1980s local pollution and acid rain debate , but the Douglas smelter became the primary target because it was the largest U.S. emitter and essentially had no controls on its emissions. 40 40 Ibid. , 106 107, 130, 175 .

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19 Figure 1. Southwestern copper smelters and SO 2 emissions from the Denver Post , 19 82 41 The regulatory and legislative maneuvers related to waiving the Douglas smelter emissions compliance were byzantine . In the early 1980s, legislators including New Mexico S enator Pete Dome nici and Arizona R epresentative Morris Udall , with support from the anti regulation Reagan administration, advocated weakening the Clean Air Act to include assault on the Clean Air Act crested in 1983 in the face of rising public alarm about acid 42 Still the specter of extending the NSO deadline to 1993 persisted. 43 When the NSO controversy peaked in 1985 in relation to 41 Jack Cox Pollution Sources Unverified Denver Post , September 26, 1982, B1 . 42 Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 153. 43 McLeod West is Not Immune 12 13 .

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20 expanded pollution from Mexican smelters , Arizona Federal regulations . He believed Congress needed to clarify the finality of the 1988 NSO deadline, and he reported the Mexican that riddled with loopholes . 44 Other stakeholders agreed about the ambiguity of the regulations. 45 To simplify the issue f or the purposes of the history told here, the January 1988 NSO expiration can be consi dered the expected status quo option, allowing the Douglas smelter and other non complying smelters to evade adequate emissions controls until that date. However, the EPA and the State of Arizona had discretion with regard to issuing the NSO and imposing o ther environmental requirements, and thus they had leverage to negotiate compliance strategies and timelines . An extension of the NSO waiver until 1993 or beyond also remained possible whether through regulatory loophole s or Congressional action which would have represented a win for some smelter operations and a loss for environmental interests . 46 44 House , Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 24 , 32; see also Capaldo, Smoke and Mirrors, 125 128 . 45 Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 99 th Cong., 1 st sess., 1985 , 51, 53. 46 Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 153.

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21 Scale, Damage, and Vulnerability in the Western Acid Rain Debate Although smelters are the focus of this study , other aspects of the debate about acid rain in the West evolved simultaneously and interacted with the smelter issue. Kenneth Wilkening identifies four fundamental questions related to applying knowledge about acid rain to a given region: (1) Does a region al scale problem exist? (2) What are the sources of pollution emission (locations, characteristics, temporal trends, etc.) ? (3) What are the source receptor relationships (what sources deliver what quantities of pollutants to a given receiving location)? ( 4) What are the adverse impacts (type, extent, seriousness, etc.)? 47 During the 1980s in the West, the issue of smelters as well as other potential sources of acid forming emissions related to questions two and three. The very existence of a regional scale acid rain problem in the West (question one) was another issue, as was the extent of any damage, especially to alpine lakes and ecosystems in the Rocky Mountains (question four). As with the smelter debate, certainty about the existence and damage issues varied over time and by stakeholder, yet by the mid 1980s broad agreement seemed to emerge. Gary Hart, who chaired a Senate committee hearing about acid rain in the West in 1985, summarized the testimony presented at that hearing : We have heard from Agency officials and the scientific community that we are today operating under a situation of limited data, that there is some evidence of the presence of acidity in our ecosystems and our environment, but little evidence of current damage. No real picture of w here we might be headed if current practices continue. We have some information but we need more. We need it from the scientific community particularly, and those of us in public positions have to provide the resources for that. 48 47 Wilkening , 213 . 48 Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 64 65 .

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22 overall need for more knowledge reflected the emerging consensus in these areas. Finally, the vulnerability of western alpine ecosystems to damage from acid deposition even if no damage had yet been confirmed became perhaps the most widely accepted aspect of the debate. At the 1985 Senate committee hearing, for example, numerous witnesses agreed high country aquatic systems were sensitive, and none disagreed. U.S. Geological Survey ( USGS ) the Western United States has [alpine] aquatic systems, lake s, streams, which are as sensitive as any that you are likely to find anywhere in the world . John Malanchuk , acting director of acid rain research and development in skeptical EPA, admitted that rsheds do exist in the Rocky Mountain region. These watersheds contain high elevation lakes with very little acid neutralizing capacity. While no damage to these systems has been measured, it is the general scientific opinion that these watersheds have onl y a very limited capacity to assimilate acid deposition inputs . E ven Bruce Rockwell, representing the pro industry Western Regional Council (WRC) , conceded that potential ly sensitive . 49 This perception of western alpine ecosystems as sensitive to damage from acid rain played an important role during the 1980s debate about smelter pollution. 49 Ibid., 17, 27, 39.

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23 CHAPTER III LINKING SMELTERS WITH WESTERN ACID RAIN: FROM UNCERTAIN SCIENTISTS TO CONVINCED POLICYMAKERS, 1979 1987 Early Lack of Scientific Evidence Drove Uncertainty In the context of a well established environmental movement, new regulation s , and years of acid rain study in Europe and northeastern North America , University of Colora do Boulder biologist s reported in 1979 find ing a three year trend of steadily increasing acidity in rain and snow in the Como Creek area of the Rocky Mountains Front Range. 50 Michael Grant , who along with William Lewis led the research team , expressed being In fact, at that time no other extended study of precipitation acidity ne of the reasons for He noted the potential implications of acid rain in the West, including ecological changes in poorly buffered alpine lakes, slower forest gr owth rates, accelerated rock weathering, damaged crops, and effects on recreation. If the measured trend continued for a half 51 In the first several years following the discovery of acid rain in the Rockies , scientists proposed various sources for the acidity while emphasizing the scientific uncertainty 50 This area is west of Boulder, Colorado, and east of the Continental Divide . 51 R.H. Ring Air Pollution Blamed for Acidity of Water Denver Post , June 10, 1979, 35 ; Science 207 (1980): 176 177.

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24 surrounding the source question . In 1979 Michael Grant said nitric acid accounted for the acid ifying trend in the Como Creek area. This nitric aci nitrogen compounds, almost certainly man contributor, and other industrial processes where you have combustion of hydrocarbons . Grant advanced two possible s ources of the nitric a upwind and upslope . The Denver Post article rep orting mentioned recent EPA efforts to limit SO 2 emissions from coal fired power plants but emphasized that nitric acid, not sulfuric acid, was linked to increase in acid precipitation. 52 After the public announcement of source speculations and uncertainty heavily influenced the issue . According to this coverage, e ither the acidifying pollution originated in Front Range urban areas ( circulated in the atmosphere against prevailing surface winds), or it came from dispersed and distant sources. Because nitric acid was driving the increased acidity, mobile sources such as automobiles were a likely culprit. However, the articl es made clear that the researchers could not sources , while noting the need for more study . 53 52 Ibid., 35 . 53 Quote from Tom Gavin Acid Rain Found in Colo. Rockies Denver Post , October 6, 1979, 1 ; also see Denver Post (e ditorial The Patter of (Acid) Rain Denver Post , October 21, 1979, 27 ; Maureen Dempsey While Northeast Frets/Acid Rain Wets t he West High Country News , April 18, 1980, 7, 12 .

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25 These messages reached federal policy makers, at least one of whom judged the evidence pe rsuasive enough to promote legislative action . In October 1979, Grant reported the Como Creek findings to the National Commission on Air Quality , which was assessing whether the Clean Air Act was failing to address problems like t discovery of acid rain in the United States, there is a growing sense that this is a national Democratic senator from Colorado, in problem . 54 Two years later, Hart and eight other senators introduced legislation requiring the EPA to report to Congress on acid rain in the West as well as requiring reductions in SO 2 emissions for states east of the Mississippi. In a meeting of the Senate Environment Committee, Hart said NO x from motor vehicles was the major acid rain source in the Rocky Mountain states, and he called for more acid rain monitoring in the region as wel l as maintaining NO x emission standards for cars and tightening them for trucks. Kathleen Bennett, assistant EPA administrator, disagreed with calls for immediate action and said more research was needed, noting cost burdens to consumers and uncertain bene fits if preemptive action were taken . 55 The Denver Post mentioned smelters in relation to acid rain for the first time in November 1981, but scientific opinions related to the source q uestion remained speculative. In addition , the smelters in question were located in Utah, not Arizona , which later became 54 Gavin Acid Rain Found 1 . 55 Schmidt Hart Introduce s Bill, C12 ; Kenneth T. Walsh , Panel Calls for Action to Control Acid Rain Denver Post , October 30, 1981, C15 .

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26 the epicenter of smelter controversy . By this time, scientists had detected acid rain in multiple highest levels found in the mountains. The s cientists, however, were uncertain about the source. said John Harte , a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researcher and leader of a two year old acidity study in the mountains between As pen and Crested Butte. smelters in Utah or power plants in the Four Corners area, or it might even be Japan, Europe . 56 H arte said his research team would be checking the correlation between storm patterns and acid deposition to determine whether the Utah smelters or the Four Corners power plants likely were generating the pollution . University of Colorado biologist William Lewis sugg ested Front Range pollution as the source of declining lake alkalinity that he observed in Front Range lakes. USGS hydrologist John Turk speculated about the effects of lightning induced NO x formation. Turk called for development of a computer model to pre dict the amount of acid resulting from a given amount of pollution. Several scientists also disagreed about whether the current evidence justified regulation. Some argued that more evidence was required, whereas others argued that preemptive regulation wou ld be beneficial. 57 In September 1982, High Country News , in an article about increased evidence of acid precipitation throughout the Rockies , mentioned the potential importance of smelters as a source but still emphasized the uncertainty about sources. As a general statement, the 56 Jack Cox , Acid Rain Strongest at Altitude Denver Post , November 8, 1981, F1, F3 . 57 Cox , Acid Rain Strongest F1, F3 . Jack Cox Front Range Lakes Turning More Acidic Denver Post , November 8, 1981, F3 .

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27 burning power plants and NO x primarily by automobiles, though both substances are emitted by both polluters . The article mentioned various existing and potential s ources, including oil shale operations, coal gasification plants, and natural gas processing plants. However, it said, e ven in the East there 2 emissions from coal plants were causing acid rain. Alan Simpson , a Republican senator from the potentially affected state of Wyoming cited problem. High Country News for the problem, because they are the largest uncontrolled source of SO 2 . However, researcher John Harte again emphasized the uncertainty about sources, noting that the composition of acid rain in the West with a high ratio of nitric to sulfuric acid looked more like acid rain in Los Angeles, where automobiles were the primary source, than acid rain in Ohio, where coal was th e primary source. He said L os Angeles could not be ruled out as a source, yet the acid rain found in the West also could be caused by coal fired power plant e missions. The only thing that is certain is that acid rain is falling . 58 Through 1983 , the Denver Post continued to portray substantial scientific uncertainty about the sources of acid rain in the Rockies. According to a May article , O ne conclusion was that precipitation was generally more acidic in southwestern Colorado than in northwestern Colorado, which some observers believed was 58 Whipple Acid Precipitation 13.

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28 However, an analysis of one southwestern Colorado site showed precipitation typically with more nitrates than sulfates, suggesting motor vehicles may have been more responsible than ind ustrial plants for the acidity. The article also reported a lack of complete scientific understanding about the formation of acid rain in general , but said that goes up must come down . said that acid rain precursors could be carried hundreds or thousands of miles from their sources. 59 In June 1983 , the Denver Post focused on findings from pioneering University of Colorado researchers Lewis and Grant, who r eported acid rain falling on two thirds of Colorado including all the mountain areas. The researchers suggested that about two thirds of the total acidity falling in Colorado might be produced by coal burning power plants within Colorado and just outside t he state in the Four Corners region. They noted the large power plants directly upwind of the areas with highest acidity in the mountains around Steamboat Springs (downwind from a power plant in Craig) and northeast of Durango (downwind from a power plant in Farmington, New Mexico ). However, they concluded that the acidification was so widespread. The article briefly noted other researchers suspecting that California auto em issions or worldwide pollution increases were the major causes of acid rain in Colorado. In addition, it briefly cited Environmental Defense Fund ( EDF ) atmospheric physicist Michael Oppenheimer claim ing that much of the pollution came from neighboring stat es. Curiously the article did not mention smelters, yet the very next day an article cited concerns 59 Jack Cox , Acid Rain Watch Maintained: Rocky Mountain Lakes Shown Highly Sensitive Denver Post , May 29, 1983, B3, B12 .

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29 by Colorado Representative Tim Wirth from increasing automobile use and from smelters in Arizona, New Mex ico, and Utah. Two months later a Denver Post editorial also me ntioned w estern copper smelters as sources of U.S. power plants a source the paper had not previously suggested . 60 Thus the w estern media still pain ted a blurry picture of the Rocky Mountain acid rain sources through 1983 source among many . At the same time, the Reagan administration and pro high sulfur coal groups continued to cast doubt on the overall cause and effect relationships between industrial emissions and acid rain , even in the East . 61 However, evidence of the connection between smelters and acid rain would soon grow, thanks in part to preexisting knowledge about smelter po llution and acid rain. Preexisting Knowledge Helped Link Smelters with Acid Rain In 1983 a cid rain caused by distant sources was a new proposition in the Rocky Mountain West. However, knowledge already existing and rapidly emerging about other types of po llution from s outhwestern copper smelters as well as long distance transport of acid forming compounds in the East provided a scientific framework for building an acid 60 Jack Cox Study Show s More Acid Rain Falling Denver Post , June 3, 1983, B5 ; Wirth Advocates Acid Rain Rules: Problem Worries Legislator Denver Post , June 4, 1983, B4 ; Denver Post (e ditorial Acid Rain Fight Must Begin 61 Ed Marston Acid Rain: A Corrosive Issue across the Nation High Country News , September 19, 1983, 1, 12 14 ; Bill Hornby Affect the West Denver Post , August 22, 1983, B3 ; Whipple Acid Precipitation 1, 12 13 .

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30 rain case against the smelters . Smelting operations existed in Douglas, Arizona, since t he turn of the twentieth century, and Phelps Dodge owner of the Douglas smelter began making small payments to American and Mexican farmers for SO 2 induced crop damage in the 1930s. 62 near smelters to avoid liability for crop damage . S tarting in 1955 , it cut back smelter operations during the summer growing season for the same reason . plants, and, beginning in the 1970s, urban groups began bringing la wsuits over the smelters health effects. 63 As acid rain bec ame a w estern concern in the early 1980s, ev idence about long distance pollution from smelters emerged in relation to another type of pollution caused by SO 2 : regional haze , created when airborne p articles such as those made of sul fate sc atter light . In what the Denver Post and colleagues from University of California at Davis found, before a three month smelter strike in 1980, that sulfate levels increased significantly in northern Arizona and southern Utah when winds blew from the southern Arizona smelter region. During the strike, average sulfate levels dropped by 50 to 90 percent. Although the researchers did not examine wind patt erns outside the Southwest, Eldred reported sulfate increases of 30 to 50 percent in national parks and monuments as far away as northern Colorado and southern Wyoming after the smelter strike ended . Similarly, a study based on a 1967 1968 smelter strike s howed a 60 62 Although the Mexi can payments were not known publicly until 1981 ( Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 122). 63 Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 113, 124, 126 127 .

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31 away from the smelters. An EPA sponsored study suggested that s outhwestern smelters contributed much more to regional haze in the Southwest than did new coal fired power plants. 64 Reporting on the haze issue showed the magnitude of smelter SO 2 emissions and linked SO 2 caused haze with SO 2 caused acid rain. One Denver Post article in 1982 summarized the conflicting studies about regional haze sources, but th en concluded that which produce 70 to 80 percent of the sulfur dioxide in the West appear to account for most of the sulfate . The article pegged SO 2 emissions from the smelters when they returned to full operation in two to three years at 1. 2 million tons per year. 65 It also said SO 2 . these statements, reader s might have reasonably concluded that smelters were the major source of acid r ain in the central Rockies. In any case, labeling the smelters largest source of SO 2 jibed with a similar statement made around the same time in High Country News . 66 T he smelter industry defended itself against these assertions in the media , presenting scientific data to cast doubt on the results of other studies. One study sponsored by the smelter industry which used visibility data from airports in Albuquerque, Phoenix, and 64 Cox Pollution Sources Unverified B1 , B12; Jack Cox Study Minimizes Generating Denver Post , Septemb er 26, 1982, B12 . 65 For comparison, the article noted 20 to 30 million tons of SO 2 ( Cox Lobbying Push B12 ) . 66 Cox Lobbying Push B1, B12 ; Whipple Acid Precipitation

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32 Yuma found that 30 to 80 percent of variations in regional visibility could be caused by factors such as storms, humidity, wind speed, and seasonal changes. Only in Phoenix, about 100 miles northwest of the smelter region, did the study find a connection with the smelters, . More broadly, smelter industry repre sentatives reasoned, because s outhwestern smelter emissions had been cut nearly in half since the early 1970s, any emission related environmental problems would have become obvious earlier . The director of environmental affairs for Kennecott Minerals C o. r some people may be drawing conclusions from limited research . To determine the relative contribution of smelters, power plants, and cities to visibility degradation in the Colorado River basin, the National Park S ervice and e lectric industry groups planned to begin a five year study in the fall of 1982 . 67 In 1983 t wo major reports on Midwestern coal plant emissions and acid rain in the East bolstered the evidence for long range transport ation and deposition of acidifying pollution in North America , which influenced media coverage in the West . The National Academies of Science published one report, and the Office of Technology Assessment published the other. According to High Country News , the two reports found that Midwest power plant emissions caused acid rain in the East , and thus acid rain ceased to be a scientific question and became a political question . 68 The senior editor agreed, indicating that the National Academies report proved the relationship between SO 2 emissions and acid rain enough to suggest corrective 67 Cox Pollution Sources Unverified B1 , B12. 68 Marston Acid Rain : A Corrosive Issue 1, 12 14 .

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33 action . The same Denver Post column also quoted EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus rain is a serious problem or that sulfur stack emissions are a primary contributing cause . 69 These reports built on reports published by the National Academies in 1981 and the EPA in 1982, which bot h presented strong evidence of cause and effect between co al plant emissions and acid rain in the East . 70 The significance of preexisting knowledge about acid rain can be analyzed using a framework developed by international studies scholar Kenneth Wilkening. Under this framework, t he evidence of long range transp ortation and deposition of acidifying pollution in eastern North America and in Europe United States. Wilkening defines the universal dimension universal knowledge diffuses from its place of origin and is applied by scientists to other regions, there by creating region specific knowledge . Thus, the universal becomes localized . Localizing acid rain knowledge require d determining the existence of a regional scale problem, identifying emissions sources, understanding the particular sources of pollutants being deposited in specific areas, and characterizing adverse effects. By 1983, scientists had made a case for a regional scale acid rain problem in the Rocky Mountains and noted the adverse potential effects if current trends continued. Answers to the source questions entailed more uncertain range 69 Hornby Acid Rain B3 . 70 Oreskes and Conway, Merchants of Doubt , 78, 298.

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34 SO 2 transportation and acid deposition (from research in eastern North America and Europe) implicitly sugges ted smelters the largest source of SO 2 emissions in the West as a likely western between science and politics, it is overwhelmingly the localized dimension, not the unive rsal, that interacts with the political circumstances of a region in defining an environmental issue and suggesting solutions . 71 However, in the short term, the reports about acid rain in the eastern United States, as well as contemporaneous proposals of n ational acid rain legislation, focus ed the w estern the role in the national debate over regulating SO 2 from coal fired power plants. In the West, the debate about who should pay for SO 2 cleanup highlighted the perception that th s were already relatively clean . In addition, the debate suggested that sulfur coal which already reduced SO 2 emissions from w est ern power plants might offer a national SO 2 solution as well. High Country News said that 2 emissions meant NO x accounted for a larger share of its acid rain issue compared with the issue in the Midwest and East, which presented its own challenges . NO x could not be controlled by fuel switching and, although NO x remov al was fairly easy for power plants , it was a problem for cars and trucks. 72 71 Wilkening, 210, 213. 72 Hornby Acid Rain B3 ; Marston Acid Rain : A Corrosive Issue 1, 12 14 ; Peter G. Chronis Western Coal Sales Threat Predicted Denver Post , October 12, 1983, D6 ; Ed Marston Acid Rain Splits the Coal Industry High Country News , September 3, 1984, 11 ; Ed Marston Acid Rain: The Damage it Does Can Be Deadly, High Country News , September 3, 1984, 1, 10 11 .

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35 As of 1984 five years after the discover y of acid rain in the Rockies w estern media had reported on cars and trucks ; urban emissions from the Los Angeles and Denver areas; smelters in Utah , Arizona , and New Mexico ; power plants in Colorado and the Four Corners area ; power plants in the Southeast ; emissions from Japan, Europe, and New York; and even some type of global atmospheric sourc e. The relative contributions of NO x and SO 2 were in doubt, as were the relationships between specific sources and specific receptor areas. The national debate focus ed on SO 2 emissions from coal fired power plants, and Gary Hart and High Country News joined some The smelter industry continued to defend itself ag ainst haze related accusations . Hart had called for more study of the issue as well as strong NO x regulations . In short , scienti fic evidence about the sources of . Also in 1984, however, as the efforts of EDF and the World Resources Institute ( WRI ) to control w estern smelter pollution began to gain steam, the se organization s would have a powerfu l effect on evidence , advocacy, and interests in this arena. EDF and WRI Provided Evidence about Smelters and Acid Rain in the West The Environmental Defense Fund and WRI played critical role s in building evidence about the connection between emissions from s outhwest ern smelter s and acid rain in the Rocky Mountains. In 1981, EDF launched its Western Acid Rain Project , u nder the leadership of attorney Robert Yuhnke , taking aim at the copper and electric utility industries with a first goal of c hanging the politics of copper , according to High Country

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36 News . national lobbying, legal help and strategic thinking . 73 Soon Yuhnke allied with Arizona based anti smelter groups led by Priscilla Robinson and Richard Kam p . Over the worked on resolve of a reactive and slow to act agency (the EPA) while endeavoring to make sure , says historian John W irth. 74 In particular, they fought against the Clean Air Act and to extend, from 1988 to 1993, the NSO waivers on continuous smelter emissions controls. 75 Much of their early advocacy focused on the visibility and health impacts of smelter emissions . 76 the Arizona media , according to Wirth . 77 As part of these activities , EDF generated key scientific evidence about the smelter acid rain link. Central to this effort was research on the correlation between smelter emissions and w estern acid rain deposition conducted primarily by Yuhnke and EDF physicist Michael Oppenheimer. In 1981, when anti smelter advocate Priscilla Robinson testified before C alifornia Representative Henry 73 Ed Marston , High Country News , August 4, 1986, 13 1 4 ; Ed Marston Opinion: Real Reclamati on, High Country News , August 4, 1986, 15 . 74 Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 159. 75 Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 159 160; Cox Lobbying Push B1, B12. 76 Capaldo, Smoke and Mirrors, 89 90 . 77 Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 161.

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37 Environment, she submitted into the record. 78 EDF continued to refine the research and articulate its implications over the next several years . In November 1984, EDF publi shed a report crystallizing the evidence Yuhnke and Oppenheimer had been developing about acid rain in the West , with a focus on smelter emissions . According to t he authors at maximum allowable emissions levels , they would produce about three fourths of all regional SO 2 emission s , with power plants producing less than one fourth. Smelters also contributed the most to sulfur deposition in the Rocky Mountains, they said. They calculated a threshold for acid pollution dam age and showed that buffered watersheds. They then used this evidence to examine various future scenarios. Based on this analysis, only the combination of stringently co ntrolling both Mexican and U.S. smelter emissions would result in safe sulfur deposition levels in the West while enabling the addition of new emissions sources associated with economic growth over the next 20 to 40 years. Although the report focused on sm elter emissions, it also noted the importance of controlling NO x relat ed damage to western watersheds . High Country News cited the EDF report immediately before its publication in a story about acid rain in the West. The Denver Post cited the report about six months after its publication in a story about . 79 78 Ibid. , 160. 79 Robert E. Yuhnke and Michael Oppenheimer , Safeguarding Acid Sensitive Waters in the Intermountain West: A Sulfur Pollution Strategy for Preventing Acid Pollution Damage in the Intermountain Air Shed (New York: Environmental Defense Fund , 1984); McLeod , West is Not Immune 12 13 ; Dan iel P. Jones Huge Smelter Poses Threat of A cid Rain , Denver Post , June 16, 1985, B6, B9 .

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38 The World Resources Institute began working on western acid rain i n 1982 after a workshop identified it as an important but understudied topic . WRI research ed the issue in collaboration s Energy and Resources Group. In March 1985, WRI a significant contribution to the evidence about smelters and acid rain with publication of . A uthors from WRI and the University of California at Berkeley including researcher John Harte , who had been studying acid rain in the Rocky Mountains for years wrote the report. It assess ed existing scientific literature (including the 1984 EDF report) and covered acidic deposition, geographic pollution trends , emissions sources and transport, and recommendations for the West 2 emissions but also noted the contribution of other sources, such as power plants and other industrial processes key recommendations was to control smelter emissions. 80 T he WRI report received significant media coverage. For example, a story in Science , th e prestigious peer reviewed journal of the American Association for the Advancement of including findings about smelter emissions with respect . This helped impart scientific credibility to the report . T he New York Times drew heavily on the report in a story about acid rain in the West ers are contributing to increasing acidity in high mountain lakes and streams in the Rockies . Similarly, High Country News 80 Roth et al., , quote on p. 34.

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39 that southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico . smelter, the Denver Post noted West . 81 Various s takeholde rs in the w estern acid rain debate cited the WRI report during Congressional testimony. Gary Hart chaired an August 1985 hearing about acid rain in the . He said he called for the heari ng in Denver vulnerability to acid rain issued this year by the World Resources Institute and by the National Clean Air Fund . Repor cited the report during the hearing in support of mitigating acid deposition in the West, as did New Mexico Governor Toney Anaya, Colorado Representative Tim Wirth, and s Robert Yuhnke. USGS hydrologist John Turk and U . S . F orest Service meteorologist Douglas Fox also cited the WRI report in their testimony. A t a June 1985 hearing about acid rain in the West before the House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment (Committee on Energy and Commerce), those citing the WRI report included New Mexico Representative Bill Richardson , Governor 81 Marjorie Sun Possible Acid Rain Woes in the West Science 228 (April 5, 1985): 34 ; Iver Peterson , Acid Rain Starting to Affect Environment and Politics in West, New York Times , March 30, 1985, 6 ; D.S. Curtain As Acidic a s t he Driven Snow, High Country News , November 24, 1986, 5 ; Jones Huge Smelter B6, B9 .

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40 Anaya, EDF, the United Steelworkers of America, and Arizona Representative Morris Udall . 82 Even groups explicitly skeptical or hostile toward actions to regulate acidifying emissions in the West cited the WRI report. During the 1985 Senate and House hearing s , the pro industry WRC suggested that WRI misinterpreted its own data in conclud ing that western SO 2 emissions might remain approximately constant through 1990; according to the WRC rojected decl ining emissions. The WRC also noted, based on the WRI report, that potentially sensitive ecosystems typically were not near major sulfur and nitrogen emissions sources. Because the WRC denied the existence of sci entific evidence for long range sulfur transport, it used this WRI information to support its claim about the western acid rain threat being exaggerated. Similarl y, in its July 1985 report attacking the link between smelters and western acid rain, the Copper Smelter Information Committee smelters, primarily as a way to discredit the E DF work. 83 contribution to the evidence about smelter s and acid rain reached its peak in August 1985 with the publication of an article by Yuhnke, Oppenheimer, and EDF biologist Charles Epstein in Science . The authors identified a linear relationship between variation in SO 2 emissions from w estern smelters and variation in 82 Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , Hart quote on p. 1; House , Hearing on Acid Rain in the West . 83 Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 142 168; House , Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 200 224; Copper Smelter Information Committee , Western Smelters and Acid Rain: Set ting the Record Straight (Phoenix: Copper Smelter Information Committee , 1985).

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41 precipitation sulfate concentrations in the Rocky Mountain states over a four year period (1980 1983) . In addition, they attributed about 70 percent of intermountain SO 2 emissions to the smelters, with most of the rest coming from power plants. Their evidence also indicated transportation of sulfur over distances of more than 1,000 kilometers. 84 The media immediately disseminated evidence Science article while adding context to the findings . Science News summarized the study and noted how it supported the 1983 National Academ ies of Science , over a large enough region and averaged over a long enough time period , 2 emissions and sulfate deposition would probably correlate linearly in eastern North America . The Denver Post stressed the importance of the one to one relationship between SO 2 emissions and sulfate concentrations in w estern precipitation falling up to 600 miles away , which the EDF study showed for the first time. questioned whether such a one to Denver Post article said . The New York Times tance even more, noting it was the first to lin k changes in emissions directly with changes in the acidity of rainfall in areas hundreds of miles away . In the article, a n EPA official and a Brookhaven National Laboratory researcher questioned the EDF study editor of Science said the study Jack Calvert, the lead author of the 1983 National Acade mies of Science report on acid rain said the EDF st udy offered the best evidence to date of the link between pollution and distant acid 84 Michael Oppenheimer, Charles B. Epstein , and Robert E. Yuhnke Acid Deposition, Smelter Emissions, and the Linearity Issue in the Western United States Science 229 ( 1985) : 859 862 .

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42 precipitation . James Gibson, a Colorado State University scientist who ran a federal acid rain monitoring program , said the findings were applicable to areas outside of the West as well. er whether a decrease in pollution would result in a proportional decline in the acidity of rainfall . The Denver Post and New York Times articles both said smelters contributed about two thirds of SO 2 emissions between the continental divide and the Sierr as. According to High Country News , publication of the Science into most Am erican papers . 85 T he EDF study influenced the 1985 Congressional hearing s on acid rain in the West . Debra Beck, executive director of t he Wyoming Outdoor Council, finding that central and northern Rockies at sites as much as 600 miles away from the Phelps Dodge smelter . Tim Wirth mentione d EDF among the sources of information he used to conclude that the growing western acid rain phenomenon -a degree of certainty which allows us to take immediate steps today to begin to control the threats which have emerged. At a minimum, we must act to control the emission of sulfur oxides (SO 2 ) from smelters located throughout the southwest and Mexico and emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NO x ) from mobile and industrial 85 Iver Peterson, Rocky Mountain (Sulfur) Highs a nd Lows Science News 128 (1985); Denver Post S taff and Wire Reports Sulfate in Western Rain Tied to Regional Smelters, Denver Post , August 23, 1985, A14 ; Erik Eckholm Distant Pollution Tied to Acid Rain: Study Cites Effect of Smelter Emissions in Southwest, New York Times , August 23, 1985, A1, B18 High Country News , November 11, 1985, 3 .

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43 sources . In his testimony, Wyoming Governor Ed Herschle r noted the contradiction between the EDF findings, which suggested that experienced in Wyoming results from the non ferrous smelters in the western United States , and a 1984 TRC Consultants report concluding that the smelters are not major contributors to the measur ed sulfur deposition in Wyoming . He seemed to find the EDF study persuasive, however, because he called on Congress not to extend the smelter emissions compliance deadline ed acidic deposition . Yuhnke would later say that the link between emissions and acid deposition made in the Science article gave Rocky Mountain congressmen s efforts to extend beyond 1988 their immunity from the Clean Air Act . the Congressional hearings on acid rain in the West included the Congressional Research Service, Arizona Representative Morris Udall, and USGS hydrologist John Turk . 86 T he scientific evidence provided by EDF and WRI helped shape the debate about smelters and acid rain in the West , but supplying evidence was only one part of the strategy employed by these organizations . Effective Advocacy Brought EDF and WRI Evidence into the Mainstream The Environmental Defense Fund and WRI advocated about the evidence linking smelters with acid rain and its policy implications aggressive ly and effective ly . Even before EDF published its study correlating smelter emissions with acid rain, regional media 86 Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , quo tes on pp. 62 63, 80, 91; House, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West ; Ed Marston The West Cleans Up Its Act : Douglas, Arizona, Smelter Closes, High Country News , February 2, 1987, 1 0.

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44 quoted EDF representatives in stories about the issue. 87 After it first published its study in 1984 and then began su ing Phelps Dodge and Magma to cut smelter SO 2 emissions in Arizona In addition to the stories noted in the section above , the New York Times typically crediting Yuhnke, Oppenheimer, or both in other articles related to the EDF lawsuit and the w estern acid rain issue in general . The Times also ran editorial s by Oppenheimer in which he call ed for an ef fective national acid rain control program and note d the irony of the Reagan to stonewall Canada. 88 Overall, f rom 1982 through 1986, the Denver Post mention ed EDF in relation to the w estern acid rain issue in at least seven articles, and High Country News added at least another four . 89 regional and 87 Cox Lobbying Push B1, B12 ; Cox Study Shows More B5 ; McLeod West is Not Immune 12 13 . 88 New York Times Suit Filed on Acid Rain in West, New York Times , November 29, 1984, A27 ; Peterson , Acid Rain Starting, 6 ; Nelson Bryant In the West, Concern Over Acid Rain, New York Times , January 12, 1986, S10 ; Michae l Oppenheimer Acid Rain Goes West New York Times , February 20, 1985, A23 ; Michael Oppenheimer Acid Rain Falls and Falls, New York Times , December 23, 1985, A17 . 89 Cox Lobbying Push B1, B12 ; Dave Price Acid Rain Suit Filed by Clubs, Denver Post , June 2, 1983, B5 B6 ; Cox Study Shows More B5 ; Daniel P. Jones State Acid Rain Damage a Decade Off, NCAR Chief Says, Denver Post , November 30, 1984, A8 ; Daniel P. Jones Forest Service, EPA at Odds over Forest Survey, Denver Post , April 1, 19 85, A4 A5 ; Jones Huge Smelter B6, B9 ; Denver Post Staff and Wire Reports Sulfate in Western Rain, A14 ; McLeod West is Not Immune 12 13 ; Marston , Douglas Smelter Shut 13 1 4 ; Marston Opinion: Real Reclamation, 15 3 .

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45 national media publicity , in addition to contributing to major media c overage of anti smelter activities in Arizona. 90 The Environmental Defense Fund implemented other effective forms of advocacy as 1984 was the turning point year remembered EDF ally Priscilla Robinson about the anti smelter activities as a whole moved from the defensive to the offensive . As part of that offensive, Yuhnke and Oppenheimer presented a w estern acid rain slide show at various venues, the content of which culminated its Science article. T hey presented to Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt and Arizona Congressman Mo rris Udall. After learning about the acidification of mountain lakes through this presentation, Udall a n environmentalist but long time ally of copper interests in his district came out against the NSO extension . Babbitt would take an anti extension position as well . In July 1984 Yuhnke , according to Robinson. Soon EDF was suin g to reduce smelter emissions, which represented another form of advocacy . Yuhnke also testified on behalf of EDF, the Sierra Club, and the Wyoming Outdoor Council at the House and Senate hearings about acid rain in the West in 1985, which included present ing evidence of smelter impacts as well as related policy recommendations. 91 The World Resources Institute also advocated in prominent forums about the connection between smelter emissions and acid rain in the West. w estern acid rain 90 Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 161. 91 Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 160 162; Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 173 194; House, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 64 81.

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46 report received significant media coverage, as noted in the previous section. In addition, one of s , Mohamed El Ashry , penned a Denver Post editorial i dentifying s outhwestern smelters as a major SO 2 source of w est ern acid rain and recommend ing cleaning them up. El Ashry also testified about western acid rain at hearings of the House Subcommittee on National Parks and Recreation and the House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment. Another principal author of the WRI r eport, University of Ca lifornia at Berkeley professor John Harte, provided written testimony about his biological studies near Gothic, Colorado, at the 1985 Senate hearing on acid rain in the West. understanding of emissions, atmospheric pathways, and the c hemical composition of the precipitation at our site, our best guess is that metal smelters, fossil fuel powered electric generating plants, and mobile sources all contribute significantly to the acid deposition at the s subsequent policy recommendations , he called for requiring emissions from smelters in Arizona and Mexico to be controlled . 92 Such advocacy mainstream. The Mexican Smelter Threat Changed U.S. Interests and Beliefs Related to Acid Rain For many years, Canada criticized the U nited States for sending pollution across the Canada had much to lose: 70 percent of its economy relied on forests, fish, or related tourism during the mid 1980s , and these resources 92 Mohamed T. El Ashry Acid Problem Creeps Westw ard, Denver Post , July 13, 1985, A8 ; Ann Schmidt West More Vulnerable to Acid Rain , Panel Told, Denver Post , May 21, 1985, A7 ; Beth Frerking Views Split on Proposed Acid Rain Bill, Denver Post , May 8, 1986, B4 ; Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the We st , 31.

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47 were vulnerable to acid rain . Conversely, Canada sent relatively little air pollution to the U nited States . Thus cleaning up the transborder acid forming emissions would have be nefited Canada more while cost ing the United States more. Not coincidentally, Canada became convinced about the acid rain problem more quickly and more firmly than did the U nited States , which continued to stress the uncertainties surrounding the issue . Ch ris Bernabo who served on the White House Council on Environmental Quality and as research director for the Interagency Task Force on Acid Preci pitation during the 1980s later discussed the relationship among costs, benefits, evidence , and certainty . As pa raphrased by historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway , Bernabo said, It was only natural that [Canadians ] would interpret the evidence as more dire than their U.S. For any problem, the degree of scientific certainty demanded is proportional to the cost of doing something about it . So the United States was more resistant to accepting the evidence and demanded a high level of certainty . 93 As the acid rain controversy between Canada and the U nited States was peaking i n the mid 1980s , the proposed expa nsion of Mexican copper smelting capacity put the shoe on the other foot. T he Mexican smelters threatened to export considerable local and long range SO 2 pollution into the United States , while also competing with the depressed U.S. copp er industry . T his foreign incursion cast the United States as a pollution victim and reduce d the level of scientific certainty require d to cement a link between smelters and acid rain in U.S. eyes . Ultimately the Mexican smelter issue help ed persuade many U.S. stakeholders to accept the evidence for smelter linked acid rain in the West. 93 Oreskes and Conway, Merchants of Doubt , 76 77.

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48 In 1983, Arizona politicians , environmentalists , and media expanded copper smelting capacity with economic and environmental threats while connecting the se issues with the pollution emanating from the Phelps Dodge smelter in Douglas . After discovering that the World Bank was loaning money to expand the uncontrolled Mexican smelter at Cananea (a loan that was later canceled ) , Arizona Represen tative Jim McNulty and Senator Dennis DeConcini both pro labor Democrats held a hearing about loans to foreign companies in competition with U.S. industry. 94 Priscilla Robinson and other environmentalists helped the Congressmen with the hearing and testifie d about pollution at it. Anti smelter advocate Richard Kamp soon sounded the alarm that huge new Nacozari smelter, which the World Bank was also funding, would begin operation without emissions controls . According to High Country News , the smelter would em it 500,000 tons of SO 2 per year, becoming the second largest SO 2 source on the continent . The result , according to Kamp and other environmentalists, would be a hellish Douglas an image the Arizona and national media would use repeatedly over the next several years . This framework established the concept of reciprocity between Mexico and the United States with regard to smelter emissions cans from Douglas], we can hardly expect a reciprocal response from the Mexicans with respect to Nacozari and Cananea , Arizona Governor Babbitt said. 95 94 According to Wirth ( Smelter Smoke 95 McLeod West is Not Immune 12 13 ; Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 172 173, 179 .

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49 Figure 2. Representation of t from High Country News , 1987 96 Environmentalists and o ther stakeholders used the Gray Triangle linkage repeatedly to argue for closing the Douglas smelter, with EDF at the forefront of arguments related to acid rain. In fact, by 1985 , [Phelps Dodge] 96 Marston West Cleans Up 1 0.

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50 Robinson. EDF said that Mexican and U.S. smelter emissions both had to be controlled to protect the West from acid rain. Regional and national newspapers picked up on this theme. High Country News , citing EDF, identified uncontrolled American smelters as a major acid rain source and projected that the Nacozari smelter would increase regional SO 2 smelter emissions by 50 percent when it came online in 1985. A Denver Po st article titled : Westerners Fear Mexico Smelter Will Lead to Acid Rain , which also cited EDF, clearly linked the control of emissions from the Douglas and Nacozari smelters. The article quoted a n unidentified EPA source saying that if American smelters were not controlled, and it noted Babbitt state controls on Arizona smelters if the EPA sign ed a reciprocal agreement with Mexico. New York Times coverage also strongly linked the Mexican and American smelter emissions, using source material from EDF. 97 The campaign to link the issues surrounding the Nacozari and Douglas smelters resulted in political support for controlling smelter emissions . Citing acid rain concerns, a bipartisan group of t en members of Congress including Senators Gary Hart (Colorado) , Pete Domenici (New Mexico) , and Barry Goldwater (Arizona) and Representatives Morris Udall and John McCain (both from Arizona) join ed the governors of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming in opposing a draft agreement between the EPA and Mexico to permit Nacozari to operate without controls until 1988. Additional political action 97 Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 180; Yuhnke and Oppenheimer , Safeguarding Acid Sensitive Waters ; McLeod West is Not Immune 12 13 ; Jones Huge Smelter Poses Threat, B6, B9 ; Eckholm Distant Pollution, A 1, B18 ; Oppenheimer Acid Rain Falls, A17 ; Bryant , In the West, S10 ; New York Times Now the Acid Rain s Headed Our Way, New York Times , February 13, 1986, A30 .

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51 included introduction of protectionist legislatio environmental groups and the copper industry seeking protection against foreign copper says historian John Wirth. This legislation would have punished Mexican copper companies that did not use emissions con trols. Colorado Senator Gary Hart and Representative Tim Wirth coordinated with Yuhnke on their legislative strategy for the Nacozari issue. Yuhnke, in turn, discussed the linkage between the Mexican and American smelter emissions with EPA Administrator Ru ckelshaus. Representative Henry Waxman ulation . At that hearing, Representative Gerry Sikorski (Minnesota , member of the House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment ), Representative Bill Richardson (New Mexico), and Senator Jeff Bingaman (New Mexico) were among the policymakers calling for control of Nacozari. Robinson cited the Nacozari issue as one of the two reasons politicians began backing away from the Douglas smelter NSO extension in 1984, with the other being political damage to Phelps Dodge caused by a 1983 strike. concludes John Wirth. 98 The Nacozari issue also compelled the Reagan administration and its EPA to address U.S. and Mexican smelter pollution , although not explicitly because of acid rain . In July 1985, the Mexican environmental ministry (SEDUE) and the EPA finalized an agreement 98 Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 161, 180, 183; Jones Huge Smelter Poses Threat, B6, B9 ; Bill Walker 3 Governors Urge Increasing Acid Rain Research in the West, Denver Post , August 13, 1985, A6 ; House , Hearing on Acid Rain in the West .

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52 linking cleanups or shutdowns of high emitting U.S. smelters by 1988 with the control of At t he same time, however, the EPA official ly maintained that is as yet an insufficient understanding of the atmos pheric processes involved to conclude that these sources [ large sources including non ferrous smelters along the U.S./Mexican border] could significantly contribute to deposition loading in more northern mountainous sensitive areas . EPA regional administr ator Dick Whittington went on to summarize the Reagan and see approach to the acid rain issue and the role of scientific uncertainty: Most simply stated, the Administration s acid rain policy is that acid deposition is a real and seri ous environmental problem. However, we have postponed making a decision on what additional action, if any, is appropriate. In so doing, we have not decided that acid rain controls are unnecessary. Rather we have chosen to wait because we feel it is prematu re and unwise to make a decision limited by our current understanding. We believe that additional scientific information is needed before we are in a position to make a prudent choice regarding the best course of action to be taken. This Administration has stated publicly and before this Committee that when the fundamental scientific uncertainties have been reduced, we will craft and support an appropriate set of measures to solve the acid rain problem. The Administration still stands behind this commitment. connection between smelter emissions and acid rain in the West as well as the need for more information before action. 99 Federal Agencies Emphasized Scientific Uncertainty S cientists from federal agencies other than the EPA also portrayed significant uncertainty about smelter emissions and acid rain in the West . Several federal scientists 99 14 ; Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 184 185 ; House , Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 47 48.

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53 testified about sources of acidifying pollution at the House or Senate hear ings on acid rain in the West in 1985 . Their conclusions varied, but take n as a whole their testimony suggested remaining uncertainty about the importance of smelters as a n acid rain source. Most prominently, USGS research hydrologist John Turk denied the existence of regional sulfate based acidification. He based this conclusion on evidence of similar sulfate concentrations observed in the lakes of three monitoring areas at very different distances from major proposed sources, including smelters and coal p ower plants. Turk said there was looks like the only convincing evidence for even chemically detectable effects as opposed to biological damage are located relatively close to readily identifiable sources, these being primarily the major metropolitan areas within the Western United States . Conversely, William Malm, research physicist of the National Park Service said pollution from smelters and urban areas was affecting visibility in s outhwestern parks, and he noted the same pollutants affecting visibility cause d acid deposition. He did not, however, discuss parks further north in Colorado or Wyoming, for example, where much of the acid rain controversy was centered nor did he provide evidence spec ific to acid deposition. 100 Two U.S. Forest Service researchers acknowledged smelters as sources of acid i f y ing pollution in the West but emphasized the uncertainty surrounding source allocation. Douglas Fox , chief meteorologist for the Rocky Mountain Fore st and Range Experiment Station, said smelters contributed SO 2 100 Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 29 30; House , Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 50 54.

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54 particular he highlighted the uncertainti es associated with modeling cause and effect relationships associated with changes in emissions sources , saying , with model controversy and complexity make numerical projections purely speculative . Alan Galbraith, forest hydrologist for Bridger Teton National Forest, attributed pollution in that area to Wyoming industrial operations, Utah urban industrial areas, copper apportioning of acid dep osition among suspect source areas is an important and, as yet, . 101 Industry Stakeholders Failed to Derail the Acid Rain Narrative Industry stakeholders generated evidence and advocated to counter the rising narrative about long distance acidification from smelter emissions across the West . However, although i ndustry pushback on the broader issue of w estern industrial emissions and acid rain received attention , industry efforts were relat ively weak and fragmented with regard to the smelter controversy in particular . Thus the industrial counter narrative provided fodder for uncertainty , but on balance it failed to negate the portrayal of smelters as a major acid rain source in the West. The smelter industry had no direct representation at the 1985 House and Senate hearings on acid rain in the West. Phelps Dodge merely submitted a letter declining an invitation to the House hearing , which said, 101 Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 113 114, 275.

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55 of the Phelps Dodge smelter at Douglas, Arizona, our application for a nonferrous smelter order has been duly made t o the Environmental Protection Agency and that application is Phelps Dodge had fought vigorously for years through legal and political channels to preempt environmental constraints on its operations. 102 Yet now, with re gulatory and possibly legislative actions on the Douglas smelter hanging in the balance, the company chose not to make a strong case about acid rain at high level hearings covered by major media outlets. It might have lacked interest in the hearings becaus e it believed they would be unhelpful to its cause , it did not see the acid rain attribution as a central threat to its operation, or it was already negotiating with the EPA to settle the Douglas smelter issue . 103 In between the two 1985 Congressional hearin gs, however, a smelter industry group released a report strongly attacking the connection between acid rain and smelter emissions and disparaging EDF in particular. High Country News described the report as follows : Through its newly formed Copper Smelter Information Committee, industry charges that an EDF study linking smelters in southern Arizona to acid rain in Wyoming and Colorado is scientifically false and politically motivated. The committee said environmentalists are trying to broaden the geographic constituency favoring national acid rain legislation by making it appear that the problem exists in the West, as well as in the East. It is unclear why smelter or other industrial interests did not use information from this report du ring the Congressiona l hearings. The extent of the impact are also unclear based on the primary sources examined in the present analysis. According to 102 Phelps Dodge also sponsored a report saying acid rain could be good for the West (Wi rth , Smelter Smoke , 165) . 103 House , Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 181; Wirth , Smelter Smoke , 112 141, 153.

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56 historian Stephanie Capaldo, the participation of the Copper Smelter Information Committee in the a grew . 104 The WRC made a more spirited defense of western industrial emitte rs at the 1985 House and Senate hearings, which included stressing uncertainty related to the link between smelter emissions and acid rain. The WRC represented more than 40 western companies in sectors including mining, utility, investment, construction, transportation, accounting, viewpoint between the need for a safe and clean environment in which to live and the need for a healthy and active economy in our region . At the hearings, it emphasized the importance of basing action on adequate scientific evidence and suggested the debate was being influenced by unsubstantiated reports . 105 The WRC made two specific arguments related to long distance transport of aci d causing emissions in the West and long distance impacts of smelter emission s specifically . First, i t argued that sulfur emissions including emissions from smelters were lower in the present than in the past, and they were projected to decline furth er, citing EPA, WRI, and State of New Mexico analyses. Yet , the organization reasoned, because no acid rain damage 104 3 ; Capaldo, Smoke and Mirrors, 23 3. 105 House , Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 200, 202.

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57 in the West had been scientifically proven during or after the higher emitting years , sulfur emissions and acid rain damage were not linked . Second, the WRC claimed that research has not established significant long range transportation of sulfur emission products in the West nor damage or serious threat from transport . In support of this claim, it cited a 1984 study by Ashbaugh and colleagues showing that southern Rocky Mountains are not transported in significant amounts to the northern Rockies . It also cited a USGS study showing that stream acidity in Colorado was not linked to Arizona SO 2 emissions. During questioning in the Senate hearing, WRC representative entirely whether or not there is any fallout in the Rocky Mountain areas from those smelters was simply no scientific evidence about the pr evailing winds blowing in this direction, no matter how badly some of our environmental friends would like to have that happen . 106 I t is beyond the scope of the present research to analyze the veracity and persuasiveness of all the specific claims made and evidence cited by various stakeholders . However, because different sides in the debate cited the As hbaugh research to support different assertions, the use of this work exemplif ies the flexibility of evidence interpretation and suggests the difficulty non scientists must have had in critically assessing the connections between claims and the scientific evidence used to support them. As noted above, the WRC used a 1984 Ashbaugh study to claim significant sulfur emissions products were not transported from th e southern to the northern Rockies; it did not provide a specific citation, although Ashbaugh and colleagues published at least two articles in 1984. During 106 House , Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 209 210; Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 45.

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58 the 1985 Senate hearing, Forest Service h ydrologist Alan Galbraith cited the 1984 article by Ashbau gh and colleagues published in Atmospheric Environment to claim , with regard to Rather strong circumstantial findings of air flow patterns from Arizona and northern Mexico suggest a source area associated with the copper smelter complex in this region . In their 1985 peer reviewed article in Science , the EDF researchers cited the same article by Ashbaugh a nd colleagues along with other publications from these and other researchers to support their finding of a linear relationship between smelter emissions and precipitation sulfate concentrations at distant Rocky Mountain sites. 107 In any case, outside the WRC , no industrial stakeholders presented evidence on behalf of smelters at the 1985 Congressional hearings, which demonstrated the f ragmented nature of industrial interests surrounding the acid rain issue. The Alliance for Clean Energy, which represented low sulfur coal interests, declined to judge acid rain research, choosing instead to promote legislation allowing industries to reduce emissions via use of low sulfur coal. The Colorado Mining Association noted the need for more research on acid rai n sources before any emissions reducing legislation might be implemented, then called for flexible emissions reductions strategies in any such legislation a transparent promotion of sulfur coal. The lack of industry support for smelters at the hearing s is consistent with John of industry interests at the time : low sulfur coal companies saw opportunity in acid rain regulations, while those interest ed in western oil, gas, synfuel, and coal power projects worried that smelter SO 2 em issions would limit their ability 107 Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 275; Oppenheimer Acid Deposition, Smelter Emissions, 859 862 .

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59 to develop withi n the context of emissions caps . Even the smelter industry was fragmented. Copper companies ASARCO and Kennecott , for example, resented the competitive advantage Phelps Dodge received from the NSO waiver an d helped Priscilla Robinson in her campaign to clean up the Douglas smelter starting in 1982. 108 T the acid rain link and EDF failed to receive the same media coverage as did the EDF Science article or WRI report. In fact no mentions of the organization or report emerged in a search of the New York Times , Denver Post , Rocky Mountain News , and several news databases . 109 High Country News cited it, as noted above, although that art icle mainly promoted the findings of the EDF study. I t seems likely that a thorough search of s outhwestern newspapers would reveal additional stories , but the broad er lack of coverage might suggest that the Copper Smelter Information Committee deliberately chose not to publicize the report widely or had a poor media strategy. Perhaps the group had a different purpose for the report, such as for direct political lobbying. Alternatively, the same newspapers publicizing the EDF and WRI work might have chosen n ot to cover the pro smelter report, which seems unlikely unless they deemed the report to be non credible . In any case, the a pparent lack of media attention, findings during the 198 5 Congressional hearings , limited the Copper Smelter Information ability to introduce uncertainty about the link between smelters and acid rain. 108 Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 40, 28 4 285; Wirth , Smelter Smoke , 165 166 ; Capaldo, Smoke and Mirrors, 111. 109 Including the Newspaper Source Plus and Access Newspaper Archive databases, Google, and Google Scholar .

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60 The questioning of a link between smelters and haze or acid rain receive d relatively limited newspaper coverage overall . The Denver Post , for example, published science based rebuttals of smelter haze studies sponsored by the smelter industry as well as smelter industry quotes questioning the conclusiveness of acid rain research . Another article q uoted a Phelps Dodge ecologist concluding that However, this type of coverage was small compared with coverage of the EDF and WRI reports. Most striking is the lack of direct pushback from smelter interests in articles about the EDF and WRI reports . The lack of smelter industry viewpoints in the media also those organizations into a mainstream narrative about a cid rain in the West. 110 State and Federal Policymakers Acted as Audience s and Advocates State and federal policymakers served as target audiences for advocates on various sides of the debat e about smelters and acid rain. However, the se policymakers also ha d their own related interests , and these interests aligned with the positions they advocat ed about the certainty of evidence surrounding the issue . By the mid 1980s, t he governors of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming were signaling their certainty a bout the smelter acid rain link while calling for clean up of the dirtiest smelters . Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt was particularly important , because the key American smelter the Phelps Dodge smelter in Douglas was in his state , and he h ad some influence over its fate . For many years, the smelting industry had been sacrosanct 110 Cox Pollution Sources Unverified B1 , B12; Cox Lobbying Push B1, B1 2 ; Neil Westergaard Capitol Banner Protests Denver Post , April 23, 1986, B1 .

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61 among Arizona politicians . Yet times were changing. The U.S. copper industry appeared to be in decline, and Babbitt was among those promoting new industries for the state, such as fruit trees , light industry, and retirement communities . Said Babbitt in 1985: Had you come West 10 years ago I think you would have found Arizonans lining up to persuade you that the shortrun apparent economic gains from the operation of t hese copper smelters justified looking the other way when it came to the environmental issues. I believe that a strong majority of Arizonans would now say it is in our economic interest to deal forcefully with this crisis. One hundred, or 200 jobs at Dougl as, AZ, pale into insignificance compared with economic development opportunities that are being lost in one of the most attractive parts of the United States where economic development is on hold because of our failure to come to grips with this issue. From the perspective of Babbitt and others promoting new industr ies for Arizona, the smelters and especially the Douglas smelter were now a blight . 111 A 1984 strike by Phelps Dodge workers gave Babbitt further cause to distance himself from the smelter indus try. He was forced to call out the National Guard to handle the dispute, and he blamed Phelps Dodge for the contentiousness. At the same time, the defeated workers turned against Phelps Dodge and threw their political support behind measures that would han dicap the company. The number of Arizona jobs related to smelting had already declined, and this alliance with the union made opposing Phelps Dodge even more politically tenable . Phelps Dodge , however, still had significant public support in the area , the Arizona Dennis DeConcini and Representative John McCain supported leniency on the emissions issue . The diplomatic link between the Douglas and Nacozari smelters as we ll as the widely 111 Jones Huge Smelter Poses Threat, B6, B9 ; Walker 3 Governors Urge A6 ; House , Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 23; Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 157 158; Capaldo, 69 77 , 155 .

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62 publicized threat of acid rain gave Babbitt further cause to call for action. With both uncontrolled smelters online, many of his constituents believed they would have to endure signific antly increased pollution, health impacts , haze, and acid rain and those constituents were increasingly vocal about their concerns . Dodge grew in the early 1980s and Phelps Dodge could no longer hide behind powerful political allies or economic arguments alone , says historian Stephanie Capaldo . At the same time, national polls and media suggested that most Americans supported more stringent environmental protections. All these factors made it easier for Babbitt to publicly accept the evidence for acid rain caused by smelter emissions. 112 . His state was on the receiving end of the postulated smelter based acidification, and Colorado had no smelting industry of its own to protect. What he did need to protect was image as natural, clean, and wild, which the Denver Post said was critical to substantial tourism industry. In addition, Lamm was a prominent environmentalist engaged in the acid rain issue at a national level. In 1981, for examp le, he proposed that Association issue a strongly worded statement noting the severity of the U.S. acid rain problem and calling for action. The existing evidence of smelter impacts on Colorado was enough to convince Lamm of the nee d for action. 113 112 Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 156 157, 161, 196 197 ; Capaldo, 118 119 , 123 125 , 128, 234; House , Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 23 25 , 173 180. 113 Denver Post Acid Rain Threatens Tourism as well as Trees Denver Post , July 30, 1984, A12 ; Gavin 6 .

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63 In contrast, New Mexico Governor Toney Anaya presided over a state with significant copper smelting interests as well as potentially threatened high mountain lakes and smelter emissions elters, Cananea smelters, because they had installed effective emissions controls at significant expense. Thus Anaya had reason to feel protected from the campaign against uncontrolled smelters while being incentivized to join that campaign because , as he stated at the 1985 House hearing on acid rain in the West, competitive advantages by escaping the costs of pollution control . At the same hearing, Anaya made clear that the current evidence was sufficient for action, and he contrasted his the West was insuf EPA is just simply not prepared to address the problem . 114 Although Wyoming had no copper smelters, its pollution emitting industries were significant and growing, and Governor Ed Herschler saw controlling s outhwestern smelter emissions as a way to enable quality standards. His Congressional testimony reflected the slight ambivalenc e of a state that strongly wanted to pollute but did to us tha t our scientific knowledge of acid rain has not caught up with the politics of the acid 114 Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 179; House , Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 15 17.

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64 we believe that much additional knowledge and information must be gathere d before we can fully understand the implications of all of our actions and decisions, we remain firmly convinced that we know enough to begin to develop the strategy which will allow us to take actions as it is appropriate . He then went on to call for Cl ean Air Act amendments to reduce interstate acidifying pollution transport, cleanup of the uncontrolled Arizona and Mexican smelters, and additional research on acid rain in the West. 115 The testimony from Members of Congress at the 1985 hearings on acid rai n in the West corresponded to state interests as well. New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman accepted the link between smelter emissions and acid rain and called for controls on the Mexican smelters. Arizona Representative Morris Udall acknowledged the potentia l seriousness of the NSO exemption while negotiating for controls on the Mexican smelters . He also reported introducing legislation H.R. 2679 , the Udall/Cheney acid rain control bill along these lines ; Wyoming Representative Dick Cheney saw acid rain legislation as a way to market low sulfur western coal. Colorado Representative Tim Wirth emphasized the urgency of addressing acid rain problems in the West and called f or cleaning up American and Mexican smelters, reducing NO x emissions including those from automobiles, and strengthening the C lean Air Act overall to address acid rain nationally. Colorado Senator Gary Hart , who chaired the Senate hearing , expressed deep concern over the acid rain issue but did not take 115 Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 14 15.

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65 an explicit stance on the persuasiveness of the evidence of smelter contributions . However, he was part of the group pushing for control of the Nacozari smelter. 116 and see ap proach on smelter pollution , which its representatives purveyed at both Congressional hearings on acid rain in the West, aligned with the Reagan established wait and see policy on the broader issue of acid rain in North America. In particu Nacozari smelter created a tricky diplomatic situation: if the United States explicitly called on Mexico to reduce transborder acidifying emissions, then the credibility of longstanding denial s of U.S. emissions damaging Canada might be compromised . 117 By the mid 1980s, the eastern part of the United States and Canada was much better studied than was the w estern United States with regard to the sources and impacts of acid rain. Yet the Reagan admi nistration continue d to justify inaction in the East based on uncertainty and the need for more research. Thus adopting a similar strategy for the West was a logical choice. Acid Rain Concerns Contributed to the Control of U.S. and Mexican Smelters The Ph elps Dodge smelter in Douglas , Arizona, closed on January 15, 1987, in what the biggest environmental victory since the stoppage of the Kaiparowits powerplant in southern Utah . 118 Also by that time, Mexico had committed to controlling the 116 House , Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 6 7, 198 199 ; Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 198; Senate, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 11 12; Jones Huge Smelter Poses Threat, B6, B9 . 117 McLeod West is Not Immune 12 13 ; New York Times Now the Acid Rain s Headed, A30 . 118 Marston , The West Cleans Up, 1 0.

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66 umerous influential stakeholders had voiced their belief that smelter emissions caused acid rain across the West. Among these were the governor of Arizona and nati onal legislators fro m the state, who theoretically might have been the most difficult to convince based on principle that something about it . 119 Although t he EPA maintain ed its wa it and see strategy about acid rain , high level denial of the smelter and acid rain link was weak outside of industry advocacy groups, as demonstrated by the Congr essional hearings on the topic. However, the regulatory machinations were complex, and multip le factors l ed to control of the smelters . In brief, a fter attempts by Phelps Dodge to secure a Congressional realities: a stiffening regulatory climate and the fact t hat the EPA a nd the state of Arizona were now running on parallel tracks with respect to enforcement , according to John Wirth . 120 In 1985 t control proposals as inadequate for protect ing the NAAQS. Arizona then refused to issue a state permit in 1986 lack of a comprehensive emissions control plan . local health impacts an issue pressed by EDF played a prominent role at EPA hea rings on the NSO extension. The EPA was also concerned that extending the Douglas NSO would threaten its agreement with Mexico to control the 119 Oreskes and Conway, Merchants of Doubt , 76 77 . 120 Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 194 197.

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67 the catalyst that brought a down was a framework that everyone could use and from which Phelps Dodge could find no extrication . 121 The existence of these various reasons also enabled the EPA to close the Douglas smelte r and negotiate with Mexico over Nacozari without having to abandon the Reagan . Immediately after the Douglas closure, High Country News said , The Southwest acid rain dispute appears to show t hat acid rain is too abstract a problem to influence policy or politicians or even the c ourts . Further it reported, t closed by acid rain -it was closed by health issues. Similarly, the Mexican U.S. agreement spe aks of the need to protect health in the border are a rather than to stop acid rain. 122 These judgements focused on the immediate, direct mechanisms of closure, which is why they downplayed the imp acts of the acid rain issue. Yet a cid rain concerns play ed a complicated and meaningful role in these events. V arious federal lawmakers had lobbied the EPA during the Douglas NSO process , including Colorado legislators concerned about acid rain. Looking back, John Wirth believes that the argument that stung the mos the Arizona and Sonora smelters with acidic deposition in the Rocky Mountains. The health 121 Ibid. 122 Marston The West Cleans Up,

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68 impairment of asthmatics, while deftly argued, was probably less important . 123 In addition, from 1979 to 1987, Phelps Dodge had multiple opportunities to seek regulatory relief . T he final EPA/Arizona was not the whole story. and sink an NSO extension attempt in 1983 . 124 Later, acid rain concerns might have helped keep Congress from using legislation to override EPA and Arizona control of the NSO process, which 1985 . 125 For example, Wyoming Representative Richard Cheney , who saw acid r ain as both a threat s lakes and as an opportunity to sell low h elped block s attempt to extend the shut down deadline beyond 1988, according to High Country News . 126 The concerns voiced by numerous western leaders about Nacozari had an acid rain component, and the resulting Nacozari negotiations factored heavily in the Douglas closure and the control of Nacozari itself. Thus, f or many, the connection between smelter emissions and acid rain had become a reality, and acceptance of this reality contributed to action. 123 Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 169. 124 Ibid., 153, 169, 198 . 125 House, Hearing on Acid Rain in the West , 8. 126 Marston The West Cleans Up, 1 0 11.

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69 CHAPTER IV CONCLUSIONS Between 1979 and 1987 , a combination of scientific evidence, advoca cy, a nd political interests persuaded numerous key stakeholders that southwestern smelters contributed to acid rain in distant areas across the West. T he se three elements of persuasion ( evidence, advocacy, and interests ) were inseparably intertwined , but interests played the most important role. The Environmental Defense Fund and WRI produced peer reviewed scientific research and a scientific synthesis link ing the smelters with acid rain , and they publicized this evidence effectively . At the same time, ind ustrial groups attacked the evidence of a link and the credibility of the environmental groups, while federal government agencies emphasized the uncertainty surrounding the issue. I nfluential western stakeholders had ample opportunity to reject the link on these grounds. However, few chose to do so. Even many political leaders in Arizona where the highest emitting U.S. smelter was located accepted the smelter and acid rain link, which says more about their political interests than about an ironclad scientif ic case or overwhelming advocacy . Scientific evidence linking smelter emissions to acid rain during the 1979 1987 period built on preexisting scientific knowledge . The case against the smelter s benefited from the knowledge about acid rain and SO 2 emissions established through more than a century of research in Europe and eastern North America. Because the primacy of smelters as SO 2 emitters in the West was well known , and previous research implicated their emissions in local damage and the formation of regional haze, the smelters were a likely culprit from early on .

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70 The original research from EDF and the synthesis report from WRI became the most important sources of evidence implicating the smelters. The EDF study suggested a direct lin k between smelter emissions and sulfate concentrations in precipitation across the Rocky Mountain states. The WRI report brought together existing knowledge about acid rain in the West, putting smelters at the top of the major SO 2 sources. Science publishe d t he EDF study and reviewed the WRI report favorably imparting credibility to both pieces. Both pieces also received significant coverage in t he regional and national media, and v arious stakeholders cited one or both during the acid rain debate. The WRI r eport received particularly widespread attention . In his history of the ozone layer controversy of the 1980s , Edward Parson argues that scientific assessments restatements of existing scientific knowledge or novel syntheses . Such assessments, he says, relevant claims, and stimulate the formation of policy coalitions . 127 The WRI report served a similar purpose during the western acid rain debate , although , as argued below , its influence was less decisive . Still, scientific uncertainties presented ample opportunity to question the link between smelters and acid rain. Academic research provided evidence of significant NO x contributions to acid rain i n alpine areas , indicating that smelters were not the only source and, at least in some areas, likely we re not even the largest source. The EPA consistently highlighted uncertainties about all facets of acid rain research in the West, in accord with the Re 127 Edward A. Parson , Protecting the Ozone Layer: Science and Strategy ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003 ), 248, 251.

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71 other, less political federal agencies noted the uncertainties as well. As late as 1985 , for example, prominent USGS hydrologist John Turk questioned the existence of re gional acidification due to SO 2 from any source. Industry groups presented evidence contradicting the link between smelters and acid rain, and they questioned whether a problem existed at all. In fact s takeholders on all sides broadly agreed that little or no evidence of acid rain damage existed in western areas o f concern. This observation brought into the debate the past , when western acid rain research was lacking, and the future , which was inherently uncertain . If no damage existed , industry argued, how could smelters be contributing harmful amounts of pollution especially because smelters had emitted far more SO 2 in past decades ? Industry also claimed that industrial emitters throughout the West were getting cleaner o ver time, so acid rain would pose even less of a threat in the future. This reasoning countered the e nvironmental ist vision of increased acidification driven by accelerating western industrial development push ing vulnerable ecos ystems over a damage threshold. Effective a dvocacy helped EDF, WRI, and their allies l ink the smelters with acid rain, whereas advocacy in defense of the smelters was much less effective . The environmental organizations successfully embedded their narrative in the media, made their studies go to resources for numerous stakeholders, and directly influenced key policymakers. As the environmentalist narrative took hold, some policymakers adopted it as part of their own advocacy campaigns against extending smelter emissions waivers . EDF and WRI were effective because they focused on the smelter issue with purpose and urgency. Although they knew coal fired power plants and cars were contributing acid forming pollution as well, they did not wait until all the precise source receptor r elationships were worked out before calling for action on the smelters, in contrast to the approach taken by some federal government

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72 scientists and agencies . Industry advocacy aimed at derailing the dominant smelter narrative was fragmented and comparative ly ineffective , failing to gain widespread media attention or backing from other witnesses at the Congressional hearings on acid rain in the West . advanced by the WR C and Copper Smelter Information Committee received no scientific endorsement similar to that received by EDF and WRI through their coverage in Science . The involvement of EDF and WRI in both generating evidence and advocating policy solutions could have undermined the credibility of these organizations message, but it did not. In contrast, d uring the debate about acid rain in eastern North America, some policymakers and advocacy groups criticized scientists severely for crossing the line between scientif ic research and policy prescription. For example, in 1981 acid rain legislation before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health and the Environment. In response, l egislators from Pennsylvania and West Virginia attacked his association with an environmental group perceived as anti nuclear and anti coal. 128 It would have been easy for , say, Arizona policymakers to attack WRI and EDF similarly, especially because the key scientific evidence and synthesis supporting the link between smelters and acid rain came from these environmental groups. Indeed t he Copper Smelter Information Committee accused the organizations of political bias and false science , and the WRC questione d their conclusions. Yet , beyond the attacks from those obvious enemies, the credibility of WRI and 128 Alm, Crossing Borders , 10, 61 62, 80, 103, 115, 129 .

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73 EDF received remarkably little scrutiny during the two Congressional hearings about acid rain in the West , which were perfect opportunities to raise such issues . Key stakeholders accepted the evidence linking smelters to acid rain and rejected pro industry arguments primarily because of political interests. All the western policymakers who prominently accepted the link between smelters and acid rain had ide ntifiable political interests in seeing smelter emissions controlled. politicians remaining uncontrolled smelters as a blight . With constituent support, they wanted to clear air , make way for alternative industries , and gain leverage in the negotiations with Mexico over the Nacozari smelter . Governor Babbitt also sought to punish Phelps Dodge for the recent strike debacle. Thus the threshold of pers uasion on the acid rain issue was relatively low, even for these recent smelter allies . At the same time, the uncontrolled smelters had few political friends remaining by the mid 1980s, so few important stakeholders accepted their defense or attacked the acid rain narrative advanced by EDF and WRI. More broadly, according to John smelters a target for environmental activists and regulator s more readily than, say, the electric power industry or for that matter the petroleum based automobile culture that still holds America in thrall. In practical terms, it was easier to control single source polluters like copper smelters . 129 Looking back, t he timing of the acid rain issue was also fortuitous for the advocates of smelter control. The issue came along just as Ariz ona was becoming willing to rei n in its most polluting industry. 129 Wirth, Smelter Smoke , 137 .

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74 The contrast between the western smelter episode and the acid rain controversy in eastern North America highlights the dominance of interests in persuading stakeholders about scientific evidence . In the East, scientific evidence for acid rain was much more developed by the mid 1980s, but interest ba sed resistance was much fiercer, and this resistance raised the persuasion bar out of reach for many most highly respected scientists in the acid rain field of study, the adequacy and credibility of the scientific findings were continually qu no time during the debate did policy makers, as a whole, accept the idea that scientific consensus existed on either the causes or effects of acid rain. The final acid rain policy established by the Unite d States [under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990] came about slowly and, according to most observers, the science (and scientists) played an important, but questionable, role . 130 been more committed to the uncontrolled smelters , th ey might have strived to create similar roadblocks. There were clear opportunities to attack the certainty and credibility of the science. Perhaps, instead of abandoning Phelps hat acid off fish, and the 131 Yet political interests in Arizona and surrounding states aligned more closely with the interests of smelter control ad vocates, and thus important politicians accepted the scientific evidence more readily. according to 130 Alm, Crossing Borders , 114, 125. 131 Gavin 6 .

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75 Alm . 132 This statement likely applies to the 1980s debate about smelte rs and acid rain in the West. ** *** Western concern about acid rain fell after the Douglas closure in early 1987. F rom 1983 through 1986, for example, the Denver Post published 48 articles mentioning acid rain, averaging one article per month. From 1987 through 1990, it only published 16, averaging one article every three months, even with the coverage surrounding the national story about the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. This western tr end differed from the national trend focused on the eastern half of the country. The number of New York Times articles mentioning acid rain was about the same in the 1983 1986 and 1987 1990 periods. 133 Concern about western acid rain likely fell because even ts suggest ed that threats had declined . Closure of the Douglas smelter and the 1988 installation of emissions controls on the Nacozari smelter and on operation in San Manuel , Arizona indicated that the smelter problem had been mitigated. In 1988, for example, Robert Yuhnke said cleaning up the smelters reduced western SO 2 emissions by 55% compared with 1981 levels. In addition, some of the industrial development on which environmentalists base d their projections of future acid rain hazards, 132 Alm, Crossing Borders , 125. 133 Publication counts are based on Denver Post indexes and the Proquest New York Times database .

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76 such as oil shale development in Colorado, did not materialize. 134 Reinforcing perceptions that risks had decreased , results of studies from the EPA and a Colorado acid rain task force suggested that acid rain had not yet damaged western environments. Acid Rain No Crisis but a Concern headline about the Colorado study. 135 E.P.A. Finds Lakes of West Are Free of Acid Rain New York Times about the EPA study. 136 High Country News l inked the EPA study with the smelter controls: he EPA has found that no lakes in the Rockies are currently polluted by acid rain. The closure of Douglas and the controls on other smelters means that those lakes may be safe for quite a while . 137 This type of coverage suggested that western newspapers continued to publish occasional articles about acid rain threats . 138 In the mid 1990s, for example, concern arose about acid rain in northern Wilderness Area and its links to power plants in Utah and Colorado . 139 134 Janet Day U.S. Disputes Pollution Laws: A cid Rain Threat Not Yet Resolved, Says Forest Service, Rocky Mountain News , May 7, 1988, 7 . 135 Neil Westergaard Acid Rain No Crisis but a Concern, Study Says, Denver Post , April 22, 1986, B3 . 136 Philip Shabecoff E.P.A. Finds Lakes of West Are Free of Acid Rai n, New York Times , January 16, 1987, A13 . 137 Marston West Cleans Up 1 1. 138 David Wann Acid Snow: Winter Clouds Bear Seeds of Ruin for High Country Lakes, Wilderness? Denver Post , March 22, 1987, F1, F3 ; Denver Post Washington Bureau , Survey: Acid Rain Peril Less Out West, Denver Post , July 27, 1987, D3 ; Mark Obmaskic , Scientist Fears Signs Point to Acid Snow, Denver Post , July 24, 1988, A1 . 139 High Country News , May 2, 1994 .

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77 Broader n ational interest in acid rain dropped sharply after 1990, when Congress passed acid rain provisions within the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 . T he numbe r of New York Times articles mentioning acid rain fell by 60 percent from 1990 to 1991 and declined much further in subsequent years . At the same time, the scientific community that r self , according to Kenneth Wilkening. 140 Further, he says, attributable to the lack of well documented evidence of large scale damage of the sort found in Europe , even though some scientists believe the . 141 Thus, generally speaking, acid rain as a political and public scientific issue in the United States arose around 1979, peaked in the mid 1980s, and waned in the early 1990s. Within that period, key western stakeholders accepted the scientific evidence for the link between acid rain and smelters and used that evidence to promote mitigation activities several years before the federal government enacted a broad acid rain mitigation policy after a debate marked by staunch re sistance to acid rain science. The alignment of regional interests with scientific evidence made the western actions possible. Today, the dynamics linking scientific evidence, advocacy, and interests at various levels of government and society are playing out in relation to another sweeping environmental controversy climate change. Climate change started to become a major U.S. issue in the late 1980s. Since then, interest based resistance to the evidence linking climate change to human activities has increa sed at the national level, even as the science itself has 140 Wilkening 225. 141 Ibid.

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78 become more certain . 142 Yet , in the absence of meaningful federal climate policy, numerous s tates and cities are taking action . California , for example, has assumed a leading role , with the government climate science and linking climate impacts to the economy and environment . Accordingly, the state is working to reduc e its greenhouse gas emissions to 40% b elow 1990 levels by 2030 through various init iatives . New York City has relied on scientific evidence to identify climate related threats as well as develop aggressive emissions reduction and climate adaption goals . It is also one of a dozen large U.S. cities participating in C40, a global network of cities collaborating to drive action on climate change. 143 Many other climate initiatives are underway across all levels of government and society worldwide . These include the global Paris Agreement signed by almost every national government in 2015 . U nited States President Donald Trump , however, has signaled his intention to withdraw from the agreement while promot ing fossil fuel interests and dismantling U.S. climate change policies . 144 142 Steinberg, Down to Earth , 287 296 ; Hughes, Environmental History , 259 263 . 143 California Environmental Protection Agency, Climate Change Research Plan for California California Climate Strategy http://www.climatechange.ca.gov Statewide Response to Climate Change California, accessed May 4, 2018 , http://www.climatechange.ca.gov/state ; City of New York, Mayor de Blasio Releases NPCC 2015 Report, Providing Climate Projections Through 2100 for the First Time February 17, 2015 2018, http://www.c40.o rg/about . 144 Michael D. Shear Trump Will Withdraw U.S. From Paris Climate Agreement New York Times , June 1, 2017 , https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/climate/trump paris climate agreement.html ; Coral Davenport and Alissa J. Rubin Trump Signs Executive Order Unwinding Obama Climate Policies New York Times , March 28, 2017 , https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/28/climate/trump executive order climate change.html .

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79 T he all encompassing nature of climate change makes the interplay among evidence, advocacy, and interests even more convoluted than it was d uring the regional acid rain conflicts of the 1980s , and there are many differences between the two issues overall. Yet the history of smelters and acid rain in the West may offer insights applicable to the climate change debate . The western events of the 1980s demonstrate that political interests can promote understanding and mitigation of transborder pollution. Scientific evidence and environmental advocacy informed those interes ts, but so did numerous other contextual factors unique to each stakeholder at particular time s and place s . Those interests influenced acceptance of scientific evidence as well as advocacy activities in a n iterative feedback loop . When striving to persuade diverse stakeholders today , advocates of climate change mitigation policies might do well to embrace the complex, even paradoxical attributes of this process rather than relying on the scientific evidence alone .

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80 BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary Sources Associated Wirth Advocates Acid Rain Rules: Problem Worries Legislator Denver Post , June 4, 1983, B4 . Bryant , Nelson In the West, Concern Over Acid Rain New York Times , January 12, 1986, S10 . http://www.c40.org/ about . California Environmental Protection Agency. Climate Change Research Plan for California . Sacramento: California Environmental Protection Agency, 2015. Chronis , Peter G. Western Coal Sales Threat Predicted Denver Post , October 12, 1983, D6 . Ci Mayor de Blasio Releases NPCC 2015 Report, Providing Climate Projections Through 2100 for the First Time February 17, 2015 . Copper Smelter Information Committee . Western Smelters and Acid Rain: Setting the Record Straight . Phoenix: Copper Smelter Information Committee , 1985. Cox , Jack . Acid Rain Strongest at Altitude Denver Post , November 8, 1981, F1, F3 . . Acid Rain Watch Maintained: Rocky Mountain Lakes Shown Highly Sensitive Denver Post , May 29, 1983, B3, B12 . Front Range Lakes Turning More Acidic Denver Post , November 8, 1981, F3 . . Health Issue . Denver Post , September 26, 1982, B1, B12. Pollution Sources Unverified Denver Post , September 26, 1982, B1 , B12. Denver Post , September 26, 1982, B12 . Study Shows More Acid Rain Falling Denver Post , June 3, 1983, B5 . Curtain , D.S. As Acidic a s t he Driven Snow High Country News , November 24, 1986, 5 .

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81 Davenport , Coral , and Alissa J. Rubin Trump Signs Executive Order Unwinding Obama Climate Policies New York Times , March 28, 2017 . https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/28/climate/trump executive order climate change.html . Day , Janet U.S. D isputes Pollution Laws: A cid Rain Threat Not Yet Resolved, Says Forest Service Rocky Mountain News , May 7, 1988, 7 . Dempsey , Maureen While Northeast Frets/Acid Rain Wets t he West High Country News , April 18, 1980, 7, 12 . Denver Post (e ditorial Acid Rain Fight Must Begin Denver Post , July 30, 1983, B2 . Acid Rain Threatens Tourism as well as Trees Denver Post , July 30, 1984, A12 . The Patter of (Acid) Rain Denver Post , October 21, 1979, 27 . Denver Post S taff and Wire Reports Sulfate in Western Rain Tied to Regional Smelters Denver Post , August 23, 1985, A14 . Denver Post Washington Bureau Survey: Acid Rain Peril Less Out West Denver Post , July 27, 1987, D3 . Eckholm , Erik Distant Pollution Tied to Acid Rain: Study Cite s Effect of Smelter Emissions in Southwest New York Times , August 23, 1985, A1, B18 . El Ashry , Mohamed T. Acid Problem Creeps Westward Denver Post , July 13, 1985, A8 . Frerking , Beth Views Split on Proposed Acid Rain Bill Denver Post , May 8, 1986, B4 . Gavin , Tom Acid Rain Found in Colo. Rockies Denver Post , October 6, 1979, 1 . Denver Post , February 23, 1981, 6 . Hornby , Bill fect the West Denver Post , August 22, 1983, B3 . High Country News , May 2, 1994 . Jones , Daniel P. Forest Service, EPA at Odds over Forest Survey Denver Post , April 1, 1985, A4 A5 . . Huge Smelter Poses Threat of A Denver Post , June 16, 1985, B6, B9 .

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82 . State Acid Rain Damage a Decade Off, NCAR Chief Says Denver Post , November 30, 1984, A8 . Lewis , William M. , and Michael C. Grant . ed States . Science 207 (1980): 176 177. Marston , Ed Acid Rain Splits the Coal Industry High Country News , September 3, 1984, 11 . Acid Rain: A Corrosive Issue across the Nation High Country News , September 19, 1983, 1, 12 14 . Acid Rain : The Damage it Does Can Be Deadly High Country News , September 3, 1984, 1, 10 11 . . High Country News , August 4, 1986, 13 1 4 . Opinion: Real Reclamation High Country News , August 4, 1986, 15 . High Country News , November 11, 1985, 3 . The West Cleans Up Its Act : Douglas, Arizona, Smelter Closes High Country News , February 2, 1987, 1, 1 0 11. McLeod , Christopher The West is Not Immun e to Acid Rain High Country News , September 3, 1984, 12 13 . New York Times Now the Acid Rain s Headed Our Way New York Times , February 13, 1986, A30 . New York Times Suit Filed on Acid Rain in West New York Times , November 29, 1984, A27 . Obmaskic , Mark Scientist Fears Signs Point to Acid Snow Denver Post , July 24, 1988, A1 . Oppenheimer , Michael, Charles B. Epstein , and Robert E. Yuhnke Acid Deposition, Smelter Emissions, and the Linearity Issue in the Western United States S cience 229 ( 1985) : 859 862 . Oppenheimer , Michael Acid Rain Falls and Falls New York Times , December 23, 1985, A17 . Acid Rain Goes West New York Times , February 20, 1985, A23 .

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83 Peterson , Iver . Acid Rain Starting to Affect Environment and Politics in West New York Times , March 30, 1985, 6 . . Rocky Mountain (Sulfur) Highs a nd Lows Science News 128 (1985). Price , Dave Acid Rain Suit Filed by Clubs Denver Post , June 2, 1983, B5 B6 . Ring , R.H. Air Pollution Blamed for Acidity of Water Denver Post , June 10, 1979, 35 . Roth , Philip, Charles Blanchard, John Harte, Harvey Michaels, and Mohamed El Ashry . The . Washington, DC: World Resources Institute, 1985. Schmidt , Ann Hart Introduces Bill Aimed at Acid Rain Denver Post , October 7, 1981, C12 . West More Vulnerable to Acid Rain , Panel Told Denver Post , May 21, 1985, A7 . Schmitz , Gary Acid Rain Program Gets OK Denver Post , March 20, 1986, A14 . Shabecoff , Philip E.P.A. Finds Lakes of West Are Free of Acid Rain New York Times , January 16, 1987, A13 . Shear , Michael D. Trump Will Withdraw U.S. From Paris Climate Agreement New York Times , June 1, 2017 . https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/climate/trump paris climate agreement.html . California Climate Strategy http://www.climatechange.ca.gov . Statewide Response to Climate Change http://www.climatechange.ca.gov/state . Sun , Marjorie Possible Acid Rain Woes i n the West Science 228 ( April 5, 1985): 34 . U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health and the Environment. Hearing on Acid Rain in the West . 99 th Cong., 1 st sess., June 28, 1985. . Senate. Committee on Environmen t and Public Works. Hearing on Acid Rain in the West . 99 th Cong., 1 st sess., August 12, 1985. Walker , Bill 3 Governors Urge Increasing Acid Rain Research in the West Denver Post , August 13, 1985, A6 . Walsh , Kenneth T. Acid Rain Stand: Gamble for Hart Denver Post , March 13, 1983, A13 .

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84 . Panel Calls for Action to Control Acid Rain Denver Post , October 30, 1981, C15 . Wann , David Acid Snow: Winter Clouds Bear Seeds of Ruin for High Country Lakes, Wilderness? Denver Post , March 22, 1987, F 1, F3 . Westergaard , Neil Acid Rain No Crisis but a Concern, Study Says Denver Post , April 22, 1986, B3 . Capitol Banner Protests Denver Post , April 23, 1986, B1 . Whipple , Dan Acid Precipitation: Rain, Rain Go Away High Country News , September 17, 1982, 1, 12 13 . Yuhnke , Robert E. , and Michael Oppenheimer . Safeguarding Acid Sensitive Waters in the Intermountain West: A Sulfur Pollution Strategy for Preventing Acid Pollution Damage in the Intermountain Air Shed . New York: Environmental Defense Fund , 1984. Secondary Sources Alm , Leslie R. Crossing Borders, Crossing Boundaries: The Role of Scientists in the U.S. Acid Rain Debate . Westport, CT: Praeger, 2000. Capaldo , Stephanie . he Cultural Construction of Environmental Narratives on the U.S. Mexico Border, 1970 1988 . University of Arizona, 2013. Hughes , J. Donald . the Community of Life . New York: Rou tledge, 2009 . Kline , Benjamin . First Along the River: A Brief History of the U.S. Environmental Movement . Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011. McNeill , J.R. Something New under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth Century World . New York: Norton, 2000 . In Acid in the Environment: Lessons Learned and Future Prospects , edited by Gerald R. Visgilio and Diana M. Whitelaw. New York: Springer, 2007. Oreskes , Naomi , and Erik M. Conway . Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming . New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2010.

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85 Parson , Edward A. Protecting the Ozone Layer: Science and Strategy . Ox ford: Oxford University Press, 2003 . Schreurs , . I n Acid in the Environment: Lessons Learned and Future Prospects , ed ited by Gerald R. Visgilio and Diana M. Whitelaw . New York: Springer, 2007 . Steinberg , Te d . . New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. Taylor , Margaret R. The Influence of Government Actions on Innovative Activities in the Development of Environmental Technologies to Control Sulfur Dioxide Emissions from Stationary Sources Carnegie Mellon University , 2001. Taylor , Margaret R., Edward S. Rubin, and David A. Hounshell . 2 E missions from P ower P lants: A Case o Technological Forecasting & Social Change 72 (2005) : 697 718. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency . 2 . A ccessed May 4, 2018 . https://www.epa.gov/no2 pollution/basic information about no2 . . . A ccessed May 4, 2018 . https://www.epa.gov/so2 pollution/sulfur dioxide basics . Wilkening , Europe, North America, and East Asia . I n Science and Politics in the International Environment , ed ited by Neil E. Harrison and Gary C. Bryner , 209 240. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004. Wirth , John D . Smelter Smoke in North America: The Politics of Transborder Pollution . Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2000.