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EPA’s Acid Rain Program
Power plants generate the electricity we use every day. Unfortunately, power plants also produce large amounts of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide—the pollutants that cause acid rain—when they burn fossil fuels, especially coal, to produce energy. Congress passed a law called the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, and this law said that EPA should start the Acid Rain Program. The program limits, or puts a cap on, the amount of sulfur dioxide that power plants can release into the air and issues allowances to the power plants to cover their sulfur dioxide emissions. It also reduces the amount of nitrogen oxides that power plants can release.

Reducing Pollution
Scientists have found different ways to reduce the amount of One option is to use coal that contains less sulfur. Another option is to “wash” the coal to remove some of the sulfur. The power plant can also install equipment called scrubbers, which remove the sulfur dioxide from gases leaving the smokestack. Because nitrogen oxides are created in the process of burning coal and other fossil fuels, some power plants are changing the way they burn coal.

Other Sources of Energy
A great way to reduce acid rain is to produce energy without using fossil fuels. Instead, people can use renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power. Renewable energy sources help reduce acid rain because they produce much less pollution. These energy sources can be used to power machinery and produce electricity.

Cleaner Cars
Cars and trucks are major sources of the pollutants that cause acid rain. While one car alone does not produce much pollution, all the cars on the road added together create lots of pollution. Therefore, car manufacturers are required to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxides and other pollutants released by new cars. One type of technology used in cars is called a catalytic converter. This piece of equipment has been used for over 20 years to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxides released by cars. Some new cars can also use cleaner fuels, such as natural gas.

Cars that produce less pollution and are better for the environment are often labeled as low emissions vehicles. You can find out which vehicles are low emissions vehicles by looking at EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide.