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A long awaited agreement

When fish started turning belly up in lakes and streams, North America's eyes were suddenly opened to the consequences of pollution. But long after acid rain became a household word and Canada decided to take action, the United States was still hesitant to curb its share of industrial pollutants. For years Prime Minister Brian Mulroney courted a reluctant American president while Canadian activists lobbied and spread the word. Results came eventually, but it may have been too little too late.

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American President George Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney are in Ottawa today to sign an acid rain agreement. One aspect of the 10-year-old acid rain fight is now over: the struggle to get both countries to stop blaming each other and accept responsibility for a global problem.
The agreement requires both governments to produce detailed monitoring reports every six months to prove they are living up clean air legislation.
. On Nov. 15, 1990, U.S. President George Bush passed the revised Clean Air Act, committing the United States to clean up its share of acid rain causing pollution. The revised legislation Clean Air Act eventually achieved the target of reducing sulphur dioxide emissions by half.

. Canadian acid rain activists lobbied for the American Clean Air Act for 10 years. Their mission was to get a 50 per cent reduction of sulphur emissions.
. The U.S. Midwest produced most of the sulphur emissions that effected eastern Canada. The Clean Air Act was the first legislation created to reduce those emissions.

. A similar agreement had been created in 1979, called the Geneva Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution. Thirty-three countries (including Canada and the U.S.) ratified the agreement but its focus was largely European.
. As of 2003, 49 countries had ratified the Geneva Convention agreement.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: March 13, 1991
Guest(s): Robert de Cotret, Adele Hurley, Julia Langer
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Keith Boag
Duration: 2:30

Last updated: February 7, 2012

Page consulted on November 5, 2014

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