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A FEW FIRMS CAUSE A LOT OF ACID RAIN

SHARE A FEW FIRMS CAUSE A LOT OF ACID RAIN

More than 60 percent of U.S. sulfur dioxide emissions in 1985 came from 171 - or about 2 percent - of the nation's power plants and factories, says a new EPA acid rain report released Friday.

In the most detailed study ever made of the sources of acid rain pollution in the United States and Canada, Environmental Protection Agency researchers also confirmed that coal-burning power plants are by far the biggest source of U.S. sulfur dioxide emissions.The study, which assessed 1985 emissions, said that of the 23.1 million tons of sulfur dioxide emitted in the United States that year, power plants contributed 16 million tons - nearly two thirds of the national total.

In contrast, manufacturing and other industrial facilities emitted only 5.6 million tons of sulfur dioxide in 1985 while residential and commercial boilers released 613,000 tons and transportation sources, such as automobiles, accounted for 864,000 tons.

For both industrial and power plants, the study found the largest facilities - those emitting more than 25,000 tons per year of sulfur dioxide - were responsible for a vastly disproportionate share of total U.S. emissions of that pollutant.

Those 171 high-polluting plants, mostly coal-burning power plants, accounted for 62 percent of all U.S. emissions of sulfur dioxide even though they represent only 2 percent of the 9,175 plants surveyed.