United Sl.'itcs
Environmental Pr
Office bf          .  Volume 7
Public Awareness (A 107)    Number 4
Washington DC S»4j60 ,    Aptil 1981
Forum on Clean Air Act
Regulatory Management
Topsoil-Base of Civilization


                              United States
                              Environmental Protection
                               Office of
                               Public Awareness (A-107)
                               Washington DC 20460
                               Volume 7
                               Number 4
                               April 1981
                           &EPA  JOURNAL
                              Walter C. Barber, Acting Administrator
                              Charles D. Pierce, Editor
                              Truman Temple, Associate Editor
                              John Heritage, Managing Editor
EPA is charged by Congress to
protect the Nation's land, air and
water systems.  Under a mandate
of national environmental laws
focused on air and water quali
      d waste management and
the  control of toxic substances,
pesticides, noise and radiation,
the  Agency strives to formulate
and implement actions which
lead to a compatible balance be-
tween human activities and the
abtfity of natural systems to sup-
port and nurture life.
President Sets Rules
for Rulemakers   2
President Reagan has signed an
order to minimize the creation
of new regulations by EPA and
other agencies, and to improve
regulatory management.

Forum on the
Clean Air Act   4
Representatives of a major auto
company and an environmental
group offer their views on this
important legislation.

A Free Enterprise
Approach to Air
Pollution Control   8
Trading pollution control
credits is fast becoming a
multi-million-dollar activity.

Eroding the Base of
Civilization   10
Lester Brown explains the links
between topsoil, erosion, crops
and population.

                              Around the Nation
                              Update  36
EPA's Soil Research at
Corvallis   12
Scientists are investigating the
ways that pollutants are carried
through soils and sediments.

Alaska's 20 Million
Virgin Acres    14
Aided by  environmental studies,
Alaska is opening up vast areas
to farm production.

Our Vanishing Tropical
Forests   16
Former EPA Administrator
Russell E. Train describes the
devastation of a biological

Why Our Topsoil Is
Precious   18
An interview with Norman A.
Berg, Chief, U.S.  Soil
Conservation Service.

Louisville Explosions   24
Sewer explosions in Louisville,
Ky. are a warning to other cities
of the dangers from toxic
The Global
Importance of American
Cropland   26
A State Department specialist
explains how our food exports
and foreign policy are

A Helping Hand for
Indonesia   29
How EPA is aiding a nation
faced with serious
environmental problems.

Protecting America's
Farmland   32
The National Agricultural Lands
Study warns that  much prime
farmland is being paved over
for other uses.

Clean Water and Energy
from Hyacinths  34
With advice from EPA
scientists, Japan  is using
water plants in unusual ways.
News Briefs
Front cover: AID
ist and local official survey badly
eroded clay farmland in Columbia,
Sputh America. The scene illus
   •'.', why concern is growing
over world-wide less of topsoil.
Photo credits: Carl Purcell, AID;
Peyton Johnson, FAO; USDA—
Soil Conservation Service; "Valley
Turbulence" (p. 10) © 1978
26591, San Francisco, Ca 94126;
Japan Air Lines; Doug Wilson,
Documerica; Architect of the
Capitol; Charles O'Rear, USDA;
Embassy of Indonesia.
Design Credits: Robert Flanagan.
Donna Kazaniwsky and Ron Farrah
Opposite: Contour strip cropping
on a farm near Kasson. Minn,
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Sets  Rules
    resident Reagan recently
    signed an order setting
 strict new rules for regulators
 in the Cabinet departments and
 agencies, directing them to
 issue regulations only when
 essential and to follow the
 least costly approach.
   The regulatory rules issued
 by the President create a lever
 that his Administration intends
 to use to "get government off
 the back" of the American
 people. EPA will beamongthe
 agencies affected by the new
   The authority to monitor and
 enforce the new regulatory
 approach is given to the Admin-
 istration Task Force on Regula-
 tory Relief, headed by Vice
 President George Bush, arid the
 Office of Management and
 Budget  under its director, David
 A. Stockman.
   In commenting on the Presi-
 dent's order, EPA Acting Ad-
 ministrator Walter C. Barber
 said theaction "will provide
 government with a more uni-
 form and consistent means of
 assessing our regulatory needs.
   "The new order will mean
 fewer but better rules. It means
 that we will take a harder look
 at our regulatory needs before
 we regulate. It also gives the
 Office of Management and
 Budget an appropriate role in
 reviewing new regulations gov-
 ernment-wide. It provides us
 with a clear policy directive.
   "This is nota radical depar-
 ture from our past rulemaking
 procedures.  But it does and
 should result in a more orderly,
 cost-effective approach that
 should benefit all segments of
 our society.
   "As a first step in implement-
 ing the President's order, we
 are in the process of reviewing
 some noise and air proposals to
 determine their soundness.
 These proposals deal with the
 noise from trash compactors
 and particulate emissions from
 industrial complexes."
   The President's order:
   —Requires  Executive Branch
 agencies to identify "major
 rules" that have been issued or
are under consideration, defin-
 ing these as regulations  likely to
 impose annual  costs of $100
million or more on business or
consumers, or lead to "major in-
creases" in consumer prices or
industry costs,  or have a signifi-
cant impact on  U.S. firms in com-
petition with foreign entities.
   Every major  rule must be ac-
companied by a "Regulatory
Impact Analysis" identifying
the potential costs and benefits
of the rule and a description of
alternative approaches that
could "achieve the same regu-
   The Administration plans to
rescind such regulations, new
and old, aides said. Some pro-
posed regulations can be
changed dramatically by direct
action, while a  revision of ex-
isting ones would require
agencies to reopen lengthy rule-
making hearings in many cases,
aides said.
   In general, the President's
order directs regulators to issue
no rule unless the potential
benefits to society from the
regulation outweigh the poten-
tial costs to society.
   Regulators also are directed
to set up priorities for action in
order to achieve the maximum
benefitfor society, "taking into
account the condition of the
particular industries affected by
regulations" and "the condi-
tion of the national economy."
   This language builds into
government policy the concept
that industry—and thus society
—has only a limited amount of
money to spend on regulation

latory goal at lower cost."
   —Extends the 60-day regu-
latory freeze ordered by Reagan
Jan. 29 by directing that major
new rules that have been ap-
proved by Executive Branch
agencies but have not taken
effect must be postponed until
the regulatory analysis is
   There are exceptions to this
requirement exempting, for ex-
ample, regulations issued under
a legislated or court-ordered
timetable or issued in response
to an "emergency" situation.
   —Requires agencies to re-
view existing major rules to
pinpoint any that do not follow
the least costly regulatory
approach or duplicate other
and that rulemakers not only
must find the least costly ap-
proach but also issue regula-
tions that promise to achieve
the greatest benefits, setting
aside others that have a lesser
   Vice President Bush said
the executive order creates
the bureaucratic machinery  "to
make things happen. . . . There
has been too much regulatory
action which is adversely affect-
ing our productivity in this
   "It's gone to an extreme,  and
we're seeking a balance," he
added, promising that the Ad-
 ministration would create more
 jobs by reducing regulation.
   Both the Regulatory Task
 Force under Bush and the Office
 of Management and Budget
 under Stockman can designate
 regulations as major rules, mak-
 ing them subject to the new
 requirements if agencies fail to
 do so. Each also can require
 agencies to consider more evi-
 dence and information in reach-
 ing final rulemaking decisions.
   OMB and the task force also
 are directed to work with Con-
 gress in proposing new legisla-
 tion to reform the regulatory
  According to Bush, the Ad-
 ministration hopes to reach a
 consensus with members of
 Congress who have been push-
 ing for regulatory change since
 the mid-1970's. Legislation is
 needed, he said, to assure a
 change in direction for the inde-
 pendent agencies, but the
 President also intends to fill
 vacancies in these agencies
 with people who share the Ad-
 ministration's determination to
 reduce regulation, Bush added.
  Neither Bush nor his aides
 would identify a full list of
 major regulations they have in
 their sights, although several
 were mentioned by James C.
 Miller, executive director of the
 task force. He cited Department
 of Transportation rules that
 specify how transit agencies
 must make buses and subways
 accessible to the handicapped,
 and proposed EPA regulations
 governing excessive noise.
  In separate actions, the Presi-
 dent revoked the temperature
 control regulations established
 by former President Carter to
 conserve energy and rescinded
 another executive order that
would have sharply limited the
 export of hazardous products
 that are banned or restricted
 from use in the United States.
  In striking the restrictions on
 exports of hazardous products,
 the President directed the De-
 partments of State and Com-
 merce to find ways to accom-
 plish the same goals at a lower
 cost. The Carter Administra-
 tion's order required exporters
to obtain special licenses for
 products that had been labeled
 "extremely hazardous" after a
 review by government
 regulators. D
 APRIL 1981


                                                                                One of the healthy characteristics of a
                                                                                        •y is full dialogue about me many
                                                                                options we possess as a society. As Con-
                                                                                gress plans a review this year of the Clean*
                                                                                Air Act, it is useful to consider divergent
                                                                                points of view.

A More
By Howard H. Kehrl
    Yes, the Clean Air Act does need to be
    changed—but to improve its operation,
not to abandon the national commitment to
air quality.
   There is no question that the legislation
has been instrumental in helping reduce
man-made pollution over the past decade,
and by nearly every measure, air quality is
improving or staying about the same
despite continued robust growth in the
country. Neither is there any question that
continued Federal programs are necessary
to maintain air quality where  it is accept-
able and achieve it in those tew instances
where it still  is not.
   But after 10 years experience with the
Clean Air Act, the country ought to be able
to make its air pollution control efforts
simpler, less costly, more efficient and in
better balance with other high priority
national goals. These include reducing
inflation, restoring economic growth  and
the creation of jobs, the production and
conservation ot energy, and improving pro-
ductivity so that U.S. industry can compete
against its global competition.
  These new concerns have taken on
critical importance since the Act was
written and last revised. It's true, of course,
that these goals can compete—and some-
times even conflict—with efforts to control
air pollution to exceedingly low levels. But
there is no question that a more balanced
approach is required. Some of the Nation's
pressing problems either have been caused
or exacerbated by regulatory or legislative
efforts designed to pursue a specific goal
with a single-minded intensity that pre-
cludes any recognition of other important
national objectives.
  As for the Clean Air Act and its impact
on our industry, a few of the changes we
would liketoseewouldrequiresome
revision of the Act itself. But many of them
can be accomplished by administrative
action. Therefore, a  great deal of the bal-
ance that is needed can be provided at the
discretion of the EPA Administrator. This
is true of both stationary and mobile
changes that we think are necessary and
  Of course, when it comes to vehicular
pollution, more progress has been made
than in any other area. The industry is
meeting the very tight standards for the
1 981 model year which Congress wrote
into the Clean Air Act, reducing hydrocar-
bons and carbon monoxide 96% and oxides
of nitrogen 76% compared to an uncon-
trolled car. Even though the industry has
developed the technology required to
achieve these reductions, we believe the
auto standards ought to be reassessed and
based on what is needed to achieve the
national air quality standards for the least
cost. This clearly is not possible as long as
auto exhaust numbers are written into law
while national air quality standards can
be set or changed administratively by the
EPA. While we do not challenge Congress'
authority to establish exhaust rules by law,
the practice raises doubts that the Nation
is really getting the most effective pollution
control for the money that is spent, or that
the mandated levels of control are neces-
sary to achieve air quality goals. If, for
example, it costs a dollar a ton to control a
particular pollutant from automobiles and
two dollars a ton to control it from sta-
tionary sources to help meet the national
air quality  standards, then the automobile
is the logical source to control. But if the
cost is reversed, additional controls on
stationary  sources are appropriate.
  Aside from this continuing concern that
cost effectiveness considerations be
applied equally to mobile and stationary
control efforts. General Motors ultimately
would like to see the adoption of a control
program for mobile source emissions simi-
lar to the approach already being used to
reduce stationary source pollution. It

• Introduce the idea of the "mobile
bubble" to vehicular emission control. It is
the total emissions that impact air quality
—either nationally or in any specific loca-
tion; any single vehicle's contribution is
unimportant. Allowed to compute their
emissions the way they do fuel economy,
manufacturers would have increased flexi-
bility to reduce automotive air pollution in
a more cost effective way. The "bubble"
concept to control stationary source pollu-
tants already has found acceptance in both
industry and government.

• Avoid the unnecessary expense and
redundancy in the levels of compliance
enforcement, such as simultaneous pro-
grams covering certification, production
line tests,  in-use surveillance, and in-plant
audits. Adopting the "mobile bubble" idea
and in-use compliance in the future would
require manufacturers to accept basic
responsibility for designing, developing
and producing a fleet of vehicles that stays
within the  limits of compliance for the
period required by law. We recognize, of
course, that a method  of determining

 Motors Co
ftf. Ay res, Direc
 Defense Council's
'hairman. Cent
 gse of Richard
    •at Resources
   r Clean A ir.
 A  Record  of
 By Richard E. Ayres
    The implied topic of this forum is how
    the Clean Air Act should be redone in
 1981. I would hope the implication in the
 word "redone"—that what exists should
 be torn up root and branch—does not rep-
 resent the views of most people today. And
 I would ask you to consider what the Act
 has—and hasn't—achieved before you
 subscribe to the idea that it should be
   For I think a great deal has been accom-
 plished by this law to address a problem
 that afflicts all of us—rich or poor, environ-
 mentalist or businessman, Republican or
 Democrat. Because of the Clean Air Act,
 we have made real progress towards
 cleaner air. To be sure, much remains un-
 done, but progress—real and tangible—
 has been made under this law. At a time
 when it is fashionable to question the ac-
 complishments of government programs,
 that is an important point.
   The Clean Air Act has substantially re-
 duced national emissions of several of the
 regulated pollutants, and cuitailed the rate
 of increase of others. Without it, our
 Nation's air quality would have continued
                 to decline as our economy grew, and as we
                 moved towards greater use of dirtier fuels.
                 Minimum Federal health standards for par-
                 ticulate matter and ozone remain unmet in
                 most urban areas, but the quality of the air
                 now meets these standards for most of the
                 other regulated pollutants. This is not to
                 suggest that all is well. Important pol-
                 lutants, such as acid rain, fine particulates,
                 and many toxic air pollutants remain
                 largely unregulated, But it does mean sub-
                 stantial success in the areas where the law
                 has concentrated.
                   The Clean Air Act has also stimulated
                 rapid innovation in pollution control tech-
                 nology. When the 1970 law was passed,
                 the catalytic converter was still a mote in
                 an engineer's eye. Now half the auto fleet
                 has cata lysts that capture 70-90 percent of
                 hydrocarbons and carbon monoxides. Ten
                 years after the 1970 Clean Air  Act, the
                 auto companies are installing a second gen-
                 eration of catalysts, controlled by sophisti-
                 cated electronic gear, that cut emissions of
                 all three major pollutants. Indeed, by forc-
                 ing the development of electronic controls,
                 the Clean Air Act has helped achieve the
                 rapid increase  in fuel economy we need to
                 solve our energy problems.
                   The Clean Air Act is also largely respon-
                 sible for the rapid development of control
                 technologies for sulfur oxides and particu-
                 lates from industrial operations. In ten
                 years, the first  generation of scrubbers has
                 been commercialized, and we have entered
                 a second generation of dry scrubbing. Elec-
                 trostatic precipitators have become far
                 more effective. And a new generation of bag-
                 houses has been developed, suitable for
                 capturing fine particulates from even utility
                   These developments, and others like
                 them in other industries, contribute more
                 than cleaner air. They help us reach our
                 goal of economic growth, by making indus-
                 trial growth compatible with keeping the
                 air clean. They also help us reach our
energy goals, by allowing us to shift away
from oil without jeopardizing public health
and the environment. Had these technol-
ogies not been developed, you in industry
would face far greater controversy than
you now do.
  To point to these accomplishments is not
to suggest that the job is done. Far from it.
Progress towards clean air in industries
such as steel and copper remains dis-
appointing. And far more electric power
plants have installed tall stacks than pollu-
tion control equipment.
  I think we must also consider what the
Clean Air Act has not done. Over the past
ten years, I have seen the Clean Air Act
blamed for nearly every evil that has be-
fallen America. If you believed some of the
critics, you would think this  law was almost
single-handedly responsible for the Na-
tion's energy problems and its economic
woes. Common sense alone  should tell us
how implausible some of these claims are,
but let's take a closer look at them.
  Take energy. It is often asserted that we
must choose between our energy goals and
having clean air, as if the two were mutu-
ally exclusive.
  I say there is no such unavoidable con-
flict. We do not have to choose between
these two goals, and I think it is time to
stop talking as if we do.
  Let us think a bit carefully about this.
What do we mean when we talk about our
"energy goals?" lthinktherearetwo:one,
to meet the demand for energy to maintain
our standard of living; and, two, to mini-
mize our dependence on foreign oil. As I
see it, the Clean Air Act jeopardizes
  In the first place, the last few years have
taught us forcefully that there is no fixed
relationship between the amount of energy
 APRIL 1981

     ud: A More Balanced API
compliance still would be required, and
believe it should be as cost-effective as
possible. In fact, the "bubble" concept
might even be expanded to recognize the
exchange, purchase, or sale of "offsets" as
an alternative to recalls for noncompliance.
If adopted, this idea would recognize for
the first time the benefits of emissions
control performance better than the stand-
ards require. Manufacturers also would
warrant emission control equipment against
defects in materials or workmanship and
take remedial action to correct noncom-
plianco for a model year's production when

• Assure adequate lead-time before new
exhaust rules became effective and give a
set of standards sufficient time to see how
they're working before more stringent ones
are adopted. In each case, the minimum
time should be three years. Year-to-year
changes in the exhaust emission standards
are extremely costly for the small, incre-
mental reductions in vehicular pollution
that they achieve. Continued changes in
the standards also make it difficult to
optimize control systems for fuel economy,
cost and overall vehicle performance.
Given more time for development and
testing, manufacturers should produce
control systems which perform better in the
field—again, where it really counts.

  Al a very minimum, Congress should
look at several essential items this year,
including primarily a  re-examination of the
automotive standards for carbon monoxide
and nitrogen oxides. As for hydrocarbons,
the current level of control may be neces-
sary to achieve the very stringent national
air quality standard for ozone, although
meteorological variances may be obscuring
just how  much progress has been  made
toward meeting it. A more realistic stand-
ard for ozone would allow five exceedences
per year, which is more consistent with
the degree of error characteristic of meas-
uring accuracy of the monitoring systems
and instruments.
   However, ambient levels of carbon
monoxide are clearly declining about 7
percent per year, faster than originally
expected. It's significant, we think, that
carbon monoxide is the only criteria pollu-
tant to which automobiles are the pre-
dominant contributor. Given, the reductions
already measured, the relaxation of the
present 3.4 gram/mile (g/m) standard to
7 g/m (the 1980 Federal Standard) prob-
ably would bring all cities into compliance
around the end of the decade.
   Wnile there is no clear trend evident in
ambient nitrogen oxide levels, only two
cities outside California exceed the strict
ambient standard at present. The cars now
contributing to such emissions typically
emit an average of about 3 g/m of this
pollutant, so returning the 1981 standard
of 1.0 g/m to the 1980 standard of 2.0 g/m
would ensure a continued reduction in
automotive nitrogen oxides. It also should
assure compliance with the national air
quality standards essentially everywhere
except in the Los Angeles basin and will
permit the application of more cost-effec-
tive technology, continued production of
fuel-efficient diesel engines, and poten-
tially greater mileage on all cars.
   Changing those two requirements
slightly would also reduce U.S. imports of
the costly precious metals  required for
catalysts, which are available only in ade-
quate quantities from South Africa and the
Soviet Union.
   Finally these changes—which will  have
little effect on air quality—hold out
promise of a significant cost savings for
new car customers in the future. It cost
nearly $500 per car to put GM's Computer
Command Control system on 1981 gaso-
line models. The use of such electronic
engine controls has other benefits besides
reducing emissions, and in many cases, we
expect electronics would still be used even
if the carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides
standards are revised. But with these slight
revisions, as much as half of the cost of
Computer Command  Control could be
   When it comes to stationary source
emissions, one of the principal priorities
should be to simplify and streamline the
permit approval procedures which add
uncertainty, cost and time to the construc-
tion of new or remodeled plants. Just as
with automobiles, the best way to reduce
stationary source pollution is to replace
older factories with new ones which incor-
porate modern control technology. The
Clean Air Act, especially the Prevention of
Significant Deterioration concept which
was added in the 1977 amendments, can
discourage and delay construction of
modern facilities. This concept should be
eliminated except in those wilderness or
scenic areas where it is important to pre-
serve long-distance visibility. We do not
believe, for instance,  that powerplant
plumes should mar the view in places like
the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Isle Royale
in Michigan, or Mount Desert Island in
Maine. But Prevention of Significant
Deterioration, with the uncertainty of  case-
by-case reviews dictated by the Best
Available Control Technology requirement
—or the use of the Lowest Achievable
Emissions Rate in nonattainment areas—
imposes serious delays in new plant con-
struction. The same is true of the extensive
preconstruction monitoring and atmos-
pheric modeling frequently required for
new permits. Air quality can be maintained
or improved through use of New Source
Performance Standards while avoiding the
delays and cost inherent in existing Prever^
tion of Significant Deterioration. Similarly,
in areas meeting the national air quality
standards, simply requiring compliance
with New Source Performance Standards
would do the job more efficiently.
   At GM, we believe these changes will
not only meet air quality goals, but do so
in a more efficient way. D
A Record of Accomplishment
 we use and gross national product. We
 can use energy profligately or efficiently.
 How much we use to produce any given
 product is determined by its price, operat-
 ing through the market. When the price
 rises, we substitute other factors of produc-
 tion for energy—insulation for heating oil,
 fuel-efficient cars for gas guzzlers, efficient
 electric motors for inefficient ones, and
 so on.
   Now when government requires energy
 facilities to install pollution control equip-
 ment, it does increase, to some extent, the
 price of energy. That price increase will
 affect the demand for energy in a marginal
 way. But unless the market system breaks
 down entirely, energy supply and energy
 demand—or "need"—will balance. In
 other words, requiring pollution control  will
 shift the market for  energy. But it is a long
 and quite misleading step from that true
 statement to the claim that pollution control
 will deprive the Nation of needed energy.
   Some people suggest that by slowing  the
 construction of  coal-fired power plants, the
 Clean Air Act interferes with meeting our
 goal of lessening dependence on foreign
 oil. I don't think this claim holds up either.
 Let's face it. The major reason for the
 slower rate of power plant construction in
the past few years is lack of demand—or
put more positively, people are conserving
 energy. Coal-fired power plants are being
 built where the demand exists, but practi-
 cally none of those are in places where they
 displace oil-fired capacity. Some of those
 plants are cleaner because of the Clean Air
Act—but EPA has a virtually unblemished
record for issuing permits to them.
   Finally, some people say the Clean Air
Act is preventing the conversion of oil-fired
boilers to coal. As to industrial boilers,
preliminary analysis, done by the Kennedy
                                                                                                             EPA JOURNAL

School at Harvard, suggests that environ-
mental controls have not been a major
factor impeding conversion.
  As to utility boilers, 1 think there are two
factors far more important than the Clean
Air Act for the utilities' reluctance to con-
vert to coai. First, until the massive in-
creases in the price of oil in 1979, the
difference in cost between oil and coal had
not become so large as to be politically
embarrassing to pass through to customers
through the fuel adjustment clauses. Sec-
ond, many of the oil-fired plants are simply
too old and operate too little to be eco-
nomical candidates for conversion, even at
today's oil prices.
  To be sure, there have been continuing
and acrimonious disagreements over what
pollution controls should be installed on
converting power plants. These arguments
may have marginally affected the overall
rate of utility conversion. But with oil now
four times as expensive as coal, the eco-
nomics strongly favor conversion even
under the strictest clean air requirements.
And I would hasten to add that neither the
Clean Air Act nor the States are now man-
dating such controls.
  What about the Clean Air Act and the
economy? Has the law slowed economic
growth, cost jobs, or hurt our foreign
trade? Once again, I think the answer is
  With few exceptions, studies of the
Clean Air Act's impact on economic growth
and jobs support the common sense idea
that new investments for pollution control
have more than balanced the impact on
regulated industries. In the past five years,
they tell us, Gross National Product was
probably higher because of investments in
pollution control. And for every job lost
because of pollution control, ten to twenty
have been created.
  In recent months the Nation has begun
to look more closely at our competitiveness
with other industrial nations, and some
people have suggested that if the Clean Air
Act were weakened, we could strengthen
our position. But unless we chose to dis-
criminate against the products of other
countries, that hypothesis seems hard to
defend. For after all, foreign auto makers
must meet the same standards as domestic
car companies. And our main competitors
in steel already meet pollution control re-
quirements stiffer than ours.
   Pollsters often ask the public whether
they would be willing to sacrifice air quality
in order to have enough energy, or higher
economic growth. And they seem surprised
at how many people say they prefer clean
air. I'm not, because I think people are
answering a different question—one that I
have never been asked, t think the people
understand the issue better than the poll-
sters (and many politicians). I think they
know they don't have to make that choice
—that we do not  need to sacrifice healthy
air for a healthy economy and a better
energy situation. In other words, I think the
people know what the Clean Air Act has
done—and what it hasn't done—and they
want to keep it strong.
  Nevertheless, it has become fashionable
here in Washington to be for clean air, but
not for the Clean Air Act. Many calls are
heard now for a more "balanced" Clean
Air Act, or for one with less "red tape" and
  Efficiency is a goal everyone can sup-
port. Attacking "red tape" is one of the
oldest crusades in this city. Like the orig-
inal crusades, it has provided a holy banner
for all manner of less holy objectives, too.
To convince the skeptics that those who
call for more efficiency are really concerned
about how we go about achieving cleaner
air, rather than whether we go about it, the
opponents of red tape are going to have to
come forward with constructive alterna-
tives to accomplish the same goals.
  For if one agrees that the market, by
itself, does not provide incentives for
cleaner airt then it seems to me one must
propose some system of  government regu-
lation to protect public health and the envi-
ronment. And that regulation must inev-
itably affect, steer, and to some extent
control the conduct of business in ways
that business may find objectionable.
  There are only so many ways the govern-
ment can influence business decisions. The
present Clean Air Act uses national air
quality standards as a benchmark, and
specific technology standards to spur inno-
vation in pollution control. Some people
have proposed using emission fees, or simi-
lar measures more akin to the private
market. And of course, government can
give subsidies, directly or through the tax
system, to encourage pollution control. If
you believe in the need for government in-
tervention,  you must pick among these, not
just criticize the one we have.
  For example, I have heard many in in-
dustry argue for more flexibility in regula-
tion, to minimize the cost of achieving less
pollution. There is much  to be said for
ideas like the "bubble."  But while the
bubble lowers the cost for industry, it in-
creases the cost of government, by com-
plicating the problem of making sure the
requirements are met. Unless industry
recognizes  this, and supports higher per-
mitting fees or other means to raise the
needed funds, the public may be tempted
to see less protection for public health,
rather than more efficiency, as the outcome
of embracing the flexibility of the bubble.
  Similarly, the call for "balance" must
not be used as a euphemism for emascula-
tion. There is room for debate over many of
the regulatory specifics of the Clean Air
Act, but some basics are not debatable un-
der the rubric of "balance."
  We cannot, for example, balance the
cost of attaining health standards against
the evidence of health effects when we
establish National Air Quality Standards.
As the courts have recognized, the Clean
Air Act provides a multitude of means to
balance cost against the achievement of the
standards through decisions about control
strategies, attainment dates, and other
matters. But if we alloy health with the
base metal of economics when we set the
health standards themselves, we will have
destroyed the standards as devices to let
people know whether the air they breathe is
healthy. A decision to trade public health for
economic goods  is not a technical matter,
to be decided by  cost-benefit bureaucrats.
It should be publicly visible, and it can be
only if we continue to set our health
standards as health standards.
   We must recognize the importance of
the Federal role in air pollution control.
Where there is unproductive duplication,
let us eliminate it. But let us not forget that
the most effective parts of the Clean Air Act
are those where the Federal government
takes the largest  part. The role of the Fed-
eral government  in air pollution control has
grown for good reason, as we learned pain-
fully in the 1950'sand 1960's, when the
States proved unequal to the task of con-
trolling national and multinational
   We cannot propose abandoning the air
quality increment system in Prevention of
Significant Deterioration areas without
proposing a workable alternative method of
protecting air quality from deteriorating in
these areas—the large majority of all the
country's air resources. We cannot accept
the idea that even rural areas be allowed
air quality at the levels tolerated in  major
industrial cities.
   Nor can we propose to abandon the goal
of minimally healthful air quality in our
major urban areas by eliminating attain-
ment deadlines, or eliminating the require-
ment to attain national standards. We
cannot abandon the offset system unless
we have an alternative to assure continued
progress towards attainment. And we
should not alter the air quality standards to
disguise the fact that the air remains
   And finally, if balance is the objective,
there must be some moderation of the
rhetoric that has  been heard about the
Clean Air Act. The idea that moderate
adjustment, rather than wholesale change,
is the goal rings hollow when this single
law is blamed for energy crisis, economic
stagnation, unemployment and other ills it
did not and could not markedly affect, and
when discussion  begins from the unexam-
ined premise that the law must be "redone."
   I hope that these reflections will con-
tribute to a more moderate and thoughtful
approach to the coming debate. D
 APRIL 1981

A Free
Approach to
Air  Pollution
By Dave  Ryan
Firm A err:;
a surplus pollution
reduction for
                                Firm A receives
                                o credit for the
                                surplus pollution
                     New firm B
                     buys the
                     credit for
A    I right, ladies and gentlemen, what
    am I bid for this beautiful 100-ton
reduction in sulfur dioxide pollution from
Electrifying Power Company? ... $1 mil-
lion! Do I hear $1.5 million? . . . Going
once, going twice, going three times. Sold!
To the man in the white hat from Went-
worth Widgets."
  This fanciful "auction" may seem
strange to those locked into traditional
ways of thinking a bout pollution control.
But the Environmental Protection Agency
hopes the idea it symbolizes will become
what some observers have already called it
—a "wave of the future" where free mar-
ket trading of emission reductions supple-
ments or replaces government rules, yield-
ing more air cleanup at less cost.
  Auctioning, as portrayed in this oversim-
plified example, is an outgrowth  of a series
of important EPA regulatory reforms called
Controlled Trading. These reforms let com-
panies meet air pollution laws by securing
needed pollution reductions from other
firms (or from other sources within their
own facilities) which can produce them
more cheaply. This lets industry increase
its flexibility and sharply reduce compli-
ance costs. Controlled Trading offers a rare
opportunity to promote both economic
growth and continued progress towards
clean air, at a time of rising pollution con-
trol costs and shrinking resources.
   Under the Controlled Trading umbrella
are three main programs that reinforce one
another in saving industry money while
continuing to protect the environment: The
Emission Offset Policy, the Bubble Policy,
and Emission Reduction  Banking.
   The Emission Offset Policy applies to
new plants and makes industrial growth
compatible with air quality improvement in
areas that haven't yet met Federal stand-
ards for healthy air.
   Normally a new plant (or expansion of an
existing one) wouldn't be allowed in an
area where its pollution would intensify
violations of national health standards. The
Offset Policy, however, lets a new facility
build (or an exist ing one expand) in these
areas if it installs stringent pollution con-
trols and gets an existing plant in the
vicinity to cut its pollution by an amount
greater than the emissions the new facility
will add. The bottom line of any emission
offset transaction is that the air must be
cleaner than before the new source arrived.
   Since January 1977 nearly 40 States
have adopted offset rules as their preferred
means of promoting economic growth with
progress towards clean air. There have
been at least 1000 identified  offset trans-
actions, with new sources paying existing
plants over $1000 per ton for some par-
ticulate offsets. However, due to the diffi-
culty of finding and securing  sufficient off-
sets from existing sources acceptable to
State air agencies, most offset transactions
to date have been "internal"—within the
same company—rather than  between firms.
EPA's Banking Policy (see below)—will
substantially ease this difficulty by making
"external" offsets much easier to obtain.
   The Bubble Policy allows managers of
existing factories to figure out the best way
to clean up air pollution at individual
plants, provided overall clean air require-
ments are met. In contrast to  the traditional
approach where government  officials set
uniform emission standards for each stack
or vent in a factory, the Bubble Policy per-
mits plant managers to propose their own
emission standards—tightening them in
places where it is least costly, and relaxing
or even eliminating them where pollution
control costs are high—so long as the
plant's overall impact on air quality does
not change.
   As an example of the bubble concept in
practice, suppose the owners of an auto
painting shop decide it's more cost-effec-
tive to control smog-forming hydrocarbon
pollution from grease removal rather than
from painting operations. If State environ-
mental officials and EPA approve, the
owners could reduce or even eliminate
pollution controls at the painting end in
exchange for a compensating increase in
controls at the degreasing process.
   Multiplant bubble projects can also be
used between two or more factories of the
same or different companies in the same
   The Bubble Policy was issued in Decem-
ber 1979. Over 70 plants around the coun-
try a re actively developing applications
with more than 20 approved by States or
proposed for final approval by EPA. These
bubbles average $2 million each in annual
cost savings with many producing energy
gains and net reductions in emissions, too.
  A number of recent measures by EPA to
streamline the Bubble Policy could help
American business save hundreds of
millions of dollars more without adverse
environmental effects, if New Jersey's
experience is any guide. Last November,
EPA proposed to approve a New Jersey
rule which would let that State give fi-
nal approval to individual bubble projects
involving hydrocarbon emissions, without
case-by-case Federal review. (In January
EPA announced several additional stream-
lining steps extending this approach to
other pollutants and giving firms more time
to implement bubble projects.) By February
1, 1 981, more than 30 New Jersey firms
had submitted bubble applications even
before that State's rule was approved, and
State officials say they expect to approve
more than 100 chemical plant bubble
projects (representing at least $200  million
in estimated savings) in 1981,
  Emission Reduction Banking strengthens
both the Bubble Policy and the Offset Pol-
icy by allowing Controlled Trading to occur
over a period of time (instead  of only via
simultaneous emission  increases and
  Under the Banking Policy, firms can cut
pollution beyond what the law requires,
and "bank" these extra reductions for their
own future use jnder the  Bubble Policy or
for sale to other companies as emission
offsets. This pollution credit "savings
account" is not tied to any specific trans-
action,  so a company can draw on the
account any time it wants.
  Some of the advantages of banking are:

• It will give firms considerable incentive
to find pollution controls that produce extra
reductions most efficiently.

• It will reduce the uncertainty and trans-
action costs which confront new plants try-
ing to find, negotiate for, or finance suffi-
cient offsets.

 • Itwii! produce the cheapest possible re-
 ductions by allowing firms to create them
 when replacing worn-out control equipment
 or meeting new requirements (instead of
 by expensive retrofits).

 • It will expand opportunities for cost sav-
 ing by facilitating trades between plants
 with widely varying control costs.

 • It will create a ready pool of identified
•Hiollution reduction credits to help long-
 range community growth planning, and

 •  It could change industry's whole percep-
 tion of which pollution controls are
 "feasible," by making extra reductions
 a valuable income-producing commodity
 instead of a "nonproductive" cost.

    Three area-wide pollution banks with
 over 100 deposits are  currently operating
 in San Francisco, Seattle, and Louisville,
 Kentucky. At least a dozen more areas will
 have  banking systems operating within the
    EPA is developing controlled guidance
 and model rules that States can quickly
 adopt to provide a firm legal basis for these
 systems, integrate them with the Bubble
 and Offset Policies, and  provide business
 the incentive certainly needed for active
 markets in emission reduction credits.
    This is where a concept called "broker-
  ing"  comes in. EPA is promoting the idea
 of private sector brokers acting as environ-
 mental agents for companies, buying
 needed emission reduction credits-from
 other firms and selling their clients' credits
 for profit. As banking and trading programs
 become established and grow, the demand
 wilt increase for brokers who can help  com-
 panies avoid time-consuming searches for
 offsets and bubble partners by bringing
 buyers and sellers together, packaging
 deals, and handling all the necessary
     Generally speaking, the primary function
 performed by private trading brokers will
 be to bring together buyers and sellers, but
 they could also perform  other essential
 functions, including:

 • Appraising the market value of an emis-
 sion reduction credit and the costs of
 producing it;

 • Helping secure public or private financ-
  ing for producing or purchasing a

 • Counseling buyers  and sellers about
 market conditions and trends;

 • Performing engineering analyses to
 identify profitable reduction opportunities;
•  Preparing financing, tax, and permit

«  Securing necessary permits;

•  Supplying legal advice (in the case of
licensed attorneys); and

•  Helping States and localities set up
Controlled Trading systems.

   These roles could be—and in a signif-
icant number of cases, have already been—
filled by lawyers, accountants, engineers,
commodity brokers, environmental con-
sultants, equipment manufacturers, indus-
trial site packagers, and economic
   How much money can brokers expect
to make?
   "The profit potential for brokers in this
field is vast and the competition virtually
non-existent," says Mike Levin, Chief of
EPA's Regulatory Reform Staff. "As pend-
ing bubble applications indicate, many of
these transactions spell big money, often
several million dollars or more. Assuming
a five percent cut, that can mean a healthy
commission for a broker."
   To encourage brokers to enter this
fascinating new field. Levin's staff held a
national brokering conference which drew
nearly 200 paying participants to Washing-
ton, D.C. on January 26 of this year. The
conference laid out what brokers must
know to successfully enter this high-growth
field, and provided nuts-and-bolts informa-
tion on the legal structures, tax implica-
tions, and market demand related to
emission reduction credits, as well as case
histories by successful brokers.
   Because private trading is the most
direct means of bringing together buyers
and sellers, and because it requires mini-
mal attention and resources from the public
sector, it's the approach many commu-
nities are likely to adopt. The brokering
function, however, need not be limited to
agents on commission. In several cases
public agencies and concerned organiza-
tions have actively arranged offsets for
firms trying to move into their communities.
   To help all types of brokers, EPA is en-
couraging selected areas to set up informa-
tion clearinghouses so that those seeking
reductions for offsets or bubbles can easily
locate companies wanting to sell them.
Whether these clearinghouses are operated
by the local air agency, local  economic
development groups, or a consortium of
entities, EPA sees them growing into com-
modity "banks" which quantify the
amount of surplus emission reductions,
maintain them in an accessible central
registry, and promote regular sales.
   As promising as brokering is,  it's not the
only way to trade pollution credits. Here
are two alternatives:
• Public Auction System. A local organiza-
tion administers the entire auction, putting
credits up for sale and determining which
firms are eligible to participate. Public
auctions are open and avoid problems that
may arise when potential buyers are ex-
cluded from the opportunity to purchase

• Central Trading Systems. A single or-
ganization, called a central trading ex-
change, would be solely responsible in a
specific area for buying credits from pro-
ducing firms and reselling them to user
companies. The association would nego-
tiate purchase prices, set  resale prices, and
maintain a credit inventory. The central
trading system is particularly useful in
protecting small businesses, providing a
stock  of credits readily available to  poten-
tial buyers, and offering a ready market for
firms creating credits. It would also  facil-
itate public price information to stimulate
the voluntary creation of more emission
reduction credits.
   Whatever the approach used in carrying
out EPA's Controlled Trading reforms, they
all serve to correct a crucial weakness in
America's current air pollution control
programs: Industry now is given little in-
centive for innovation in pollution control
equipment or pollution-reducing process
changes. A company that installs tradi-
tional pollution controls can generally
count on keeping enforcers off its back,
regardless of the cost or effectiveness of
the technology used. Yet a firm that
develops more effective measures gets no
reward for doing so. Worse yet, the inno-
vative firm risks making itself a target for
extra  regulation, since it has shown it can
do more. For most firms,  it's simply not
"profitable" to invest in innovative efforts
to do  more than the  law requires. This point
is critical, for in the long run only innovg-
tion can produce improved air quality at
reduced—rather than increasing—costs.
   Controlled Trading offers a way out of
this technological trap. By making it in a
businessman's own economic self-interest
to secure as much air pollution reduction
as possible, it puts the profit motive to
work  for the environment, in ways which
use the special knowledge of control oppor-
tunities which only plant  managers

Dave Ryan is an EPA Headquarters
Press Officer

Persons seeking further details on Con-
trolled Trading should write-the Regulatory
Reform Staff, Office of Planning and Man-
agement. PM-223, U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency,  Washington, D.C.
20460. Tel: (202) 287-0750.
 APRIL 1981

Eroding the
Base of
By Lester Brown

                                       A dust storm in California creates wave-like •formations from topsoil.
   The loss of soil is in some ways the most
   serious of the threats civilization faces.
Degraded biolological systems can usually
recover if given the opportunity, but an inch
of topsoil through erosion may take nature
centuries to replace. Alternatives to oil can
be developed, butthere are no feasible
substitutes for soil in food production.
Civilization existed long before the dis-
covery of oil and may well survive the
exhaustion of oil reserves, but it cannot
long survive the continuing wholesale loss
of topsoil.
  Croplands are the foundation not only of
agriculture but of civilization itself. Ever
since the beginning of agriculture, the rela-
tionship between people and cropland has
been critical. When people lack access to
fertile land, they often go hungry. When
soils are depleted and crops are poorly
nourished, people are often undernourished
as well. When soils deteriorate, so does the
capacity to sustain life.
  Since mid-century, pressures on the
earth's croplands have mounted. Growing
populations demand more land not only for
food production but for other purposes as
well. Even as the need for cropland
expands, moreand more farmland is being
put to nonagricultural uses. Worse, the
most vulnerable soils are among the most
  As the 1980's unfold, humanity faces a
worldwide shortage of productive cropland,
acute land hunger in many countries, and
escalating prices for farmland almost
everywhere. In a world with no excess agri-
cultural capacity, the continuing loss of
productive cropland anywhere drives food
prices upward everywhere. For most people
rising food prices are the most immediate,
the most disastrous face of inflation, fueling
political instability with desperation.
                                                                              Expansion of Cropland

                                                                              Historically, the expansion of cultivation
                                                                              has been closely tied to growth in human
                                                                              numbers. Responding to population pres-
                                                                              sures, farmers moved from valley to valley
                                                                                                      EPA JOURNAL

and continent to continent, gradually ex-
tending the area under cultivation. Today,
one-tenth of the earth's land surface is
under the plow, and the promising settle-
ment frontiers have all but vanished.
   Over time, as the demand for food
pressed against local supplies, farmers
devised ingenious techniques such as irri-
gating, terracing, and fallowing for extend-
ing agriculture onto new lands. Irrigation
enables farmers to grow crops where rain-
fall is low or unpredictable. Terracing
permits the extension of agriculture onto
steeply sloping land, even mountainsides.
Centuries of laborious effort shaped the
elaborate, often picturesque systems of
terraces in Japan, China, Nepal, and
Indonesia, and in the Andean areas the
Incas once inhabited.
   In semi-arid regions—such as Australia,
the western Great Plains of North America,
the Anatolian plateau of Turkey, and the
drylands of the Soviet Union—where rain-
fall cannot sustain continuous cultivation,
alternate-year cropping has evolved. Under
this system, land lies fallow every other
year to accumulate moisture; all vegetative
cover is destroyed during the fallow year,
ancfthe land is covered with a dust mulch
that curbs the evaporation of water from
the soil. Where fallowing leaves the soil
vulnerable to wind  erosion, fields are
plowed in strips: alternate strips are
cropped and fallowed,,with the cropped
strips serving as windbreaks for the fallow
strips. Such strip-fallowing permitted
wheat production to continue in the west-
ern Great Plains after the Dust Bowl years
of the 1930's.
   In Venezuela, parts of Brazil, the outer
islands of Indonesia, and other tropical
regions where more nutrients are  stored in
vegetation than in the soil, fallowing re-
stores soil fertility. Stripped of the dense
vegetative cover, soils in the humid tropics
quickly lose their fertility. In response,
tropical farmers have mastered shifting
cultivation,, whereby they clear land and
crop it for three or four years, and then
systematically abandon  it as crop yields
decline; after 20 to 25 years, when the
exhausted soils have revived, "shifting
cultivators" repeat the cycle.
   These practices have enabled farmers to
move on to land where conventional agri-
culture would not survive. In doing so, they
have greatly increased the earth's capacity
to feed people. But now, under population-
induced stress, these time-tested practices
are beginning to break down.
   Agronomists understand only too well
the mounting pressures on land, but
analyses of overall cropland trends have
until recently been sketchy because data
have been sparse. An alternative is to use
data for grains only, since grain occupies
some 70 percent of the world's cropland.
This sacrifices comprehensiveness, but
the reliability of data  more than compen-
 sates. According to the U.S. Department
 of Agriculture computer data bank,
 rising land productivity from 1950 to
 1980 accounted for close to four-fifths
 of the growth in the world food supply
 since mid-century.  Between 1950 and
 1980, when the area planted to cereals
 expanded by 152 million hectares, or some
 25 percent, two spurts of rapid expansion
 occurred. During the first, from 1951 to
 1965, fully half of the increase came from
 the extension of grain production onto the
 "Virgin Lands" of the Soviet Union. In the
 sixteen years between 1956 and 1972,
 the area planted in cereals increased only
 7 percent worldwide. During this period
 of excess production capacity, the United
 States idled some 20 million of its 140
 million hectares {350 million acres) of
   The second spurt occurred from 1972 to
 1976 in response to poor weather and short
 harvests. Some 50 million hectares were
 added to the world's harvested area of
 cereals in this four-year period, a mere trice
 in agriculture's long history. Overall, the
 area increase amounted to another 7 per-
 cental least one-third of the grain reflec-
 ing the return to production of U.S. crop-
 land previously idled under government
 programs. A smaller share came from
 reducing the amount of land fallowed in the
 United States and the Soviet Union and
 from expanding the  cultivated area in
 Argentina,  Brazil, and Nigeria, and other
 developing countries.
   When the food supply tightened a  decade
 ago, the agricultural system had enough
 slack to allow the land planted to cereals to
 expand in one giant  step.  But that increase
 gives us no grounds for hope for another.
 Special circumstances obtained then: we
 had idled cropland and fallow fields to
 return to production. Now we have neither.
Thinning Topsoi I

Just as important to food production as the
amount of land available to produce crops
is its condition. Only inches deep (usually
less than a foot) over much of the earth's
surface, topsoil forms a fertile carpet over
less productive subsoils. As the topsoil layer
is lost, subsoil becomes part of the tillage
layer, reducing the soil's organic matter, its
nutrients, water-retention capacity, aeration
capacity and other structural characteristics
that make it ideal for plant growth. Beneath
this life-giving layer lies a planet as barren
as the moon.
  Soil erosion is a natural process, one that
occurs even on untended grasslands and in
pristine forests. But on land that is cleared
and cropped, soil erosion accelerates and
becomes another proposition altogether.
 Whenever the pace of erosion exceeds the
 natural rate of soil formation, the topsoil
 thins and eventually disappears, leaving
 only subsoil or bare rock. When the topsoil
 can no longer adequately support vegeta-
 tion, the cropland is abandoned. But the
 gradual loss of topsoil and the slow decline
 in inherent fertility that precedes abandon-
 ment may take many decades.
   Soil erosion and cropland abandonment
 continue for good reasons even in the press
 of food shortages. As the demand for food
 mounts, cultivation is both intensified on
 the existing cropland base and extended
 onto marginal soils. Unfortunately, some of
 the techniques for raising land productivity
 in the near term exacerbate soil loss. In the
 American Midwest, pressure to produce
 has  led farmers to plant corn continuously,
 thereby eliminating the rotations that
 traditionally included the soil-retaining
 pastures and hay. The shift to continuous
 cropping of corn has been abetted by cheap
 nitrogen fertilizers that replaced nitrogen-
 fixing  legumes in crop rotations. In Iowa
 alone, 200 million tons of soil are lost from
 cropland each year. According to a 1977
 report from the Iowa State University Ex-
 periment Station, that soil "simply cannot
 be replaced within our lifetime or those of
 our children. The eroded soil is gone, de-
 pleting the fertility of the land."
   Throughout the United States, the U.S.
 Department of Agriculture's Soil Conserva-
 tion  Service reports, farmers are not manag-
 ing highly erodible soils as well today as
 farmers did a generation ago. Taking con-
 servation measures is relatively easy when
 the system has excess capacity. But the
 high grain prices and food shortages we
 now have tempt farmers to forgo these
 essential measures. By Soil Conservation
 Service calculations, almost three billion
 tons of soil was lost from U.S. cropland in
 1975,  an average of 22 tons per hectare,
 double what the Soil Conservation Service
 considers a tolerable loss.
  Elsewhere in the world, the doubling of
 demand for food over the past generation
 has forced farmers onto dry and steep
 lands, which are inherently susceptible to
 erosion. In the Third World, population
 growth has forced farmers onto unterraced
 mountainous soils. On these unprepared
 lands,  the natural cover quickly breaks up
 and the topsoil washes into adjacent valleys
 where  it silts streams, reservoirs, and
  In Andean Latin America, skewed land-
 ownership patterns aggravate this problem.
 Wealthy ranchers use the relatively level
 valley floors for cattle grazing, forcing
 small landholders onto steep slopes to pro-
duce subsistence crops. This pattern leads
to severe soil erosion on the slopes, which
 impairs the productive capacity of both the
mountainsides and the valleys.
                   Continued to pnga 40
APRIL 1981

EPA's  Soil
Research  at

   The EPA's Environmental Research
    Laboratory in Corvallis, Ore., has
undertaken a diverse research program to
investigate how pollutants are transported
through soils, how they a re chemically trans-
formed, and where they ultimately end up.
The laboratory is particularly concerned
with how toxic chemicals affect organisms
in farm and forest soils. In addition,
scientists are investigating how sediments
affect life in streams, rivers, and estuaries,
as well as how organisms living in or on
freshwater  and marine bottom sediments
are affected by toxic pollutants. "Most of
the persistent toxic chemicals which enter
the environment seem to end up either m
soils or in sediments," states Dr. Thomas
Murphy, Director of the Corvallis Labora-
tory. "It is important that we know how
much of these chemicals is accumulating
in soils and sediments, and what levels are
likely to result in harm to our health
and the environment."
  The potential contamination of soils by
hazardous and toxic chemicals is a con-
tinuing concern  in the United States. Some
communities are suffering the effects of
pollution from disposal of hazardous
wastes through soils into public water
supplies. In addition, pesticide residues
persisting in soils can be absorbed by agri-
cultural crops, thereby creating health
problems for people. And aquatic life in
waterways and coastal areas of the country
is threatened by toxic chemicals washed
from soil surfaces. Once these chemicals
enter streams, sediments frequently play
a role as they are carried downstream.
  Little is known about the processes by
which toxic chemicals are transported and
transformed, and scientists agree there is
a critical need for more information on
these processes to prevent adverse environ-
mental and human health effects. There are
currently over 50,000 chemical substances
in commerce and this quantity grows by
several hundred each year. The Toxic
Substances Control Act requires EPA to
evaluate all new chemicals for possible
adverse effects on the environment before
manufacture and use are permitted. The
Act also requires that manufacturers of
new chemicals provide EPA with laboratory
and other test data on the fate and effects
of chemicals that constitute a possible
hazard to a biological population. EPA  is
helping industry devise rapid, objective,
and reliable tests to comply wih the law.
Simulated Environment

Corvallis scientists are using land micro-
cosms or simulated environments to
measure the effects of toxic chemicals on
soil microbes and to determine how
substances move through the soil system.
Developing environments of this kind is
difficult because of the complex chemical
nature of soils and the diversity of mic-
robes and other life within them. However,
once a controlled system is available, the
ability to predict the impact of toxic
chemicals in the environment will be
greatly enhanced.
   Pesticides have become an indispen-
sable part of modern agriculture. Although
the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and
Rodenticide Act places restrictions on the
use of many classes of pesticides, the use
of newer toxic varieties is expected to
increase. Between 1945 and 1975 pesti-
cide use in the United States rose from
about 100 million pounds to 1.2 billion
pounds annually. This dramatic increase
over such a short period of time has created
unforeseen environmental problems, pri-
marily because of the chemical stability
of these substances. Pesticide residues in
soils therefore are a matter of extensive
study by scientists throughout the country.
  The Corvallis Laboratory is sponsoring
research at Oregon State University to
develop the tools needed to predict the
behavior of chemicals in soil. The way
chemicals move and settle in soil is deter-
mined in large part by their physical and
chemical properties. Consequently, it is
necessary to have reliable measurements
of these quantities and to define how they
travel and  are distributed. Oregon State
University scientists are studying the
behavior of chemicals in soil and soil-water
environments, and the  release of chemicals
into the air by evaporation. In addition,
they are developing more sensitive
methods of detecting chemical residues in
soils, and  are examining how toxic sub-
stances are transferred through the food
  Acid rain resulting from the increased
combustion of fossil fuels is affecting soils
throughout the United States, particularly
in the Northeast. Soil acidification is a
natural process that occurs continuously
in any soil through which water percolates.
Problems arise, however, when polluted
rainfall acidifies soil at an unacceptably
rapid rate. This suppresses the decay of
organic matter, an important source of
plant nutrients. Italso inhibits theability
of bacteria in the root nodules of legumes
to transform elemental nitrogen to
ammonia, the source of nitrogen for plants.
  In addition, acids in  rain may affect the
ability of soil to store nutrients. Valuable
nutrients such as calcium and magnesium
are bound to soil particles and thus are
protected from being rapidly washed into
groundwater. Although normal rain can
break these bonds to leach them out, acid
rain can greatly accelerate the process.
Acid rain may also cause plants to  take up
and retain greater amounts of potentially
toxic substances. For example, leafy plants
such as lettuce retain an increased amount
of cadmium when exposed to acid rain.
Even if lettuce productivity  is not affected,
a plant may not be marketable because of
such contamination.
  The Corvallis laboratory recently sup-
ported a preliminary study of the sensitivity
of Eastern U.S. soils to acid rain. Geo-
graphical areas were mapped according to
various sensitivity factors. Some soils are
more susceptible than others to changes
brought about by acid rain, and preliminary
maps have been drawn that are now being
used to help select areas for in-depth
studies of their ecosystems.
  Corvallis scientists also recently devel-
oped a soil chemistry model that enables
technicians to estimate the loss of nutrients

from soil due to acid rain. Research of this
kind is helping to predict the consequences
of future acid rain on farmlands and forest
   Soils and sediments are intimately
related in the environment. The principal
cause of U.S. soil loss is water erosion.
Some four billion tons of sediment enter
the waters of the continental U.S. each
year. Three fourths of the Nation's water-
borne sediment comes from agricultural
lands. About one billion ends up in the
ocean, and the remainder settles in rivers,
lakes, streams, and reservoirs, adversely
affecting productivity. Eroded agricultural
soils containing fertilizers, pesticides,
herbicides, and other by-products of
modern farming practices can seriously
degrade such bodies.
Sediment Vs. Trout

Corvallis scientists recently developed
new information on the role of stream sedi-
ments in salmon and trout spawning.
Researchers found that for the best survival
of young fish from incubation emergence,
the diameter of gravel in the stream bottom
should be about four times larger than the
egg diameter. Excessive amounts of fine
sediment from improper logging, agricul-
tural, or construction practices deprive the
eggs of necessary oxygen and block the
emergence of young fish during hatching.
Corvallis scientists are now investigating
the adverse effects of sediments on entire
stream communities, and the role sedi-
ments play in transporting toxic chemicals.
  Because of the large amount of sedi-
ment entering the Nation's  rivers, frequent
dredging is required in many locations to
keep shipping channels open. Each year
approximately 60 million tons of dredged
material is dumped into the ocean. Before
ocean dumping of dredged material occurs,
the Army Corps of Engineers in cooperation
with EPA must determine whether or not
the sediments are contaminated by toxic
substances. The Clean Water Act prohibits
dumping of dredged materials which may
adversely affect the marine environment.
  A bioassay test has  been developed by
Corvallis scientists at the laboratory's
Newport, Ore., costal field station that
allows investigators to determine the
toxicity  of dredge sediments proposed for
disposal in the marine environment.
Benthic, or bottom-dwelling organisms, are
most susceptible to the adverse effects of
ocean dredging, dumping, and discharge
practices, because pollutants tend to con-
centrate in bottom sediments. To perform
the benthic bioassay, samples of sediments
are taken to a laboratory where the behavior
and death rates of test organisms,  (in this
case small marine crustaceans), can be
monitored. This information is compared
with controlled experimental data to deter-
mine the extent of pollution in the sample.
The benthic bioassay is now a criterion for
determining the suitability of dredged
materials for disposal under Corps of
Engineers regulations. The test is being
refined, will soon be available for a wider
range of monitoring applications, and
eventually may be used to determine the
toxicity of sediments near sources of
contamination such as municipal sewer
   Newport researchers are refining another
procedure which may eventually comple-
ment the bioassay test. Since it is known
that pristine coastal locations normally are
dominated by marine organisms such as
brittle starfish that fiker their food from
water, and polluted areas are favored by
bottom-dwelling creatures such as marine
worms that scavenge in dead plant and
animal deposits, scientists have put this
information into a kind of pollution yard-
stick called an Infaunal Trophic Index. In
simple terms, it mea ns that where a pre-
ponderance of one  type'of organism occurs,
this information helps scientists determine
if an area is polluted or clean. To date the
test has been used in several southern
California locations where outfalls empty
into the ocean.
   In addition, marine microcosms are
being developed by Newport scientists to
investigate the ecological effects of a
variety of pollutants on marine bottom-
dwelling organisms. Because of the diffi-
culty in monitoring ocean sediments over
a long period of time, EPA scientists are
developing laboratory microcosms which
simulate some of the major physical,
chemical, and biological characteristics of
the ocean floor. These particular controlled
systems will simulate a major food chain
so the transfer of pollutants from one
organism to another can be investigated.
In addition, the behavior of various pollu-
tants in an assortment of sediments is
being monitored to determine, for example,
how pollutants travel between seawater
and the ocean floor, and what effects they
have on the microcosms. Ultimately, this
technique will be used to examine the
environmental effects of metals, sewage
effluents, dredged material contaminants,
and chlorinated hydrocarbons.
   Physical changes such as soil erosion
play an important role in influencing the
quality of coastal environments. Estuaries,
the link between inland waters and the
ocean, are among the most productive
waters in the world. Corvallis scientists are
using Yaquina Bay, a small estuary on the
central Oregon coast, as a model for study-
ing the physical processes  influencing
larger estuaries. Suspended particles in
the water are the subject of a special study
due to the role they play in the transport
and dispersion of pollutants.
Poisonous Stream Beds

For the past several years, EPA scientists
have put forth considerable effort to
develop water quality criteria to assist
regulatory officials in adopting water qual-
ity standards. These criteria do not reflect
economic or technological concerns; they
are simply the best scientific estimate of
the maximum concentration of a pollutant
that aquatic life can tolerate under typical
circumstances. The Agency is now explor-
ing the need for sediment quality criteria
to protect aquatic life. Researchers believe
that in some cases a stream might contain
harmless concentrations of pollutants in
the water but unsafe levels in bottom sedi-
ments, making the development of water
quality criteria more difficult. Fish and
other aquatic life that live or spawn on the
bottom, or that feed on bottom-dwelling
plants or animals, may be poisoned even if
a body of water meets water quality
   Ocean sediments are the ultimate sink
for a wide variety of pollutants. Chlorinated
hydrocarbons, petroleum compounds,
metals, and radionuclides are reentering
the water or being ingested by marine
organisms. Once pollutants enter the food
chain, human contamination becomes a
possibility. In recent years excessive con-
tamination of marine life by synthetic
organic chemicals such as DDT and
polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB's) has  re-
quired the closure of major fishing areas,
resulting in severe economic disruption of
the industry.
   Marine sediments quality criteria may
be necessary to protect coastal organisms,
just as freshwater sediment criteria may be
necessary to protect life in our lakes, rivers,
and streams. Scientists at the Newport
field station are investigating both bottom
and suspended sediments and how they
interact with other physical, chemical, and
biological ocean processes. Some day
sediment quality criteria and water quality
criteria together may form the foundation
for environmental standards.
   Soils and sediments provide the essen-
tial nutrients and physical foundation for
nearly a I! plant life. They also pro vide a
habitat for innumerable species of micro-
organisms and animals. The need to main-
tain and protect from pollutants the well-
being of this critical component of our
environment is clear to us all. For, as the
Roman poet Virgil observed 21 centuries
ago, "Not every soil can bear all things." Q

Mark Schaefer is a writer/editor at the
Corvallis Environmental Research
APRIL 1981

20  Million
     Aaska is beginning major
     crop production on nearly
 20 million  acres of land which
 has summer days averaging 20
 hours ifi length.
   Since this area has a frost-
 free growing season similar to
 that of many northern States,
 scientists have recognized the
 crop-growing potential for
 years. But only recently has the
 State been  able to take advan-
 tage of today's production,
 transportation, and marketing
   In 1978, Alaska started its
 drive for self-sufficiency in agri-
 culture with a  demonstration
 project of 58,000 acres near
 the small community of Delta
 Junction, 100 miles southeast
 of Fairbanks. In a State whose
 citizens pride themselves with
 putting the land and environ-
 ment first, the initial step was  to
 implement a series of environ-
 mental baseline studies. These
 studies ranged from surveys of
 the hydrologic systems of the
 area, sampling of the air qual-
 ity, studies of small  mammal
 and bird populations, and pesti-
 cide residue sampling.
   Tho objectives of the envi-
 ronmental studies were to pro-
 duce information useful to
 agricultural development, to
 maximize the amount of data
 gathered from early agricul-
 tural development for the bene-
 fit of future projects, and to
 determine methods of amelio-
 rating the environmental im-
 pact of agricultural develop-
 ments. Although the surveys
 aren't final, the preliminary
 results have yielded some very
 interesting  information. Tests
 have proven that water feeding
 precious clearwater salmon
 spawning rivers originates from
areas outside the boundaries of
development and won't be sub-
ject to potential runoff prob-
lems. Also, through the investi-
gative process, the potential of
agricultural irrigation was
identified. Additionally, aquatic
invertebrate populations and
plant life were shown to be re-
markably stable with little like-
lihood of disturbance by
Preventing Wind Erosion

One potential problem that con-
cerns everyone is erosion
caused by characteristic local
winds. As a preventive meas-
ure, farmers were required to
leave windbreaks every  quarter
mile throughout the project,
and research is being conducted
to identify new farm prac-
tices to reduce the need to till
the farm ground every year.
These "no-till" practices will
help conserve valuable soil
moisture and also leave a  stub-
ble residue to prevent soil
  Clearing the scrub black
spruce from  the land to  leave
open fields has led to one envi-
ronmental problem that  the
State has not yet been able to
solve. After vegetation is
pushed into huge piles, burning
has proved to be the only eco-
nomic method of removal. In
the project's first year, acci-
dental fires—often a problem
in Alaska's vast reaches—
charred more than 30,000 acres
and cost the State in excess of
$5 million to bring under con-
trol, Efforts are now under way
not only to minimize accidental
blazes but to find alternative
ways of clearing the land.  One
proposed method would involve
huge self-propelled chipping
and mulching machines which
could salvage the wood  debris
in addition to eliminating fires,
  An interesting aspect of this
new agricultural development is
a problem that the very first
pioneers faced in the Great
Plains States—wild, free roam-
ing bison. A wild herd of 350 to
500 animals, originally intro-
duced from Montana, roam
throughout the Delta Junction
area and from time to time graze
on farmers' haystacks and grain
fields. At times, the multiple-
use land concept is a bit
strained, but coordinated efforts
by agriculturists and wildlife
managers to divert the bison to
areas away from the farms and
to create new habitat ranges
appears to offer a possible
Land Without Weeds

One aspect of agricultural de-
velopment that could prove to
be uniquely beneficial to Alaska
is in the area of pest control,
both weeds and insects. It's
hard to imagine for anyone as-
sociated with developed agri-
culture, but newly cleared land
in Alaska has no weeds. Even
older, developed farm ground
has only minor annual weeds
that can be controlled with
proper cultural practices and
minor use of chemicals. Only
the extremely naive person
would believe that weed prob-
lems won't come to this new
land, but proper management
and attention to seed quality
together with conscientious
efforts by regulatory agencies
could avoid many mistakes of
the past and also give farmers
an economic advantage over
many other areas.
   Where chemical control of
weeds is needed, the State Divi-
sion of Agriculture, the Univer-
sity of Alaska, and the U.S.
Environmental Protection
Agency are working very
closely to monitor the use and
the effect on crops and the
environment. For the last sev-
eral years researchers have
been observing the experimen-
tal and emergency use of the
chemical Treflan  on rapeseed.
   The Canadians have done
extensive research on this
chemical, and it has been
cleared for use on other crops
in the United States. Last May
EPA issued an experimental use
permit to the State of Alaska's
Division of Agriculture for the
product, subject to a number of
restrictions. Authorities also are
keeping a watch on the Delta
Project for potential environ-
mental problems such as air
pollution from dust blowing off
newly-plowed fields.
  Because of the tremendous
potential this northern climate
crop has for rapeseed oil—a
product much in demand in the
Orient—and also for high pro-
tein animal feed, a coordinated
effort to monitor its usefulness
and effect is essential.
  Local residents and agricul-
tural scientists have known
about the possibilities for agri-
culture in Alaska for many
years, but only recently has a
complete coordinated effort
been attempted, due mainly to
petroleum  revenues and the
current State administration's
desire to develop renewable
   When someone mentions
agriculture today, most people
think about sophisticated equip-
ment, technologically advanced
pesticide controls, and one of
the most efficient industries in
the world. In a world of mod-
ern, fast, and well developed
agriculture a person can
scarcely imagine what it was
like prior to our scientific ad-
vances. But that's what the
situation resembles in the
State of Alaska.
   The story of agricultural de-
velopment in the United States
is one involving years of trial
and error,  successes, and some
failures. In their efforts to im-
plement agriculture, Alaskan
officials are hoping to avoid
many of the mistakes of the
past, especially where the envi-
ronment is concerned.
   Only through the efforts of
everyone—farmers, govern-
ment agencies, universities, and
urban residents—can success
be achieved. Developing an
agricultural industry is an ex-
citing challenge and monumen-
tal task, but the rewards will be
even greater in terms of self-
sufficiency, renewable re-
sources, employment, standard
of living, clean environment,
and multiple use of our land
in Alaska. D

Robert Pollock is Executive
Director of the Agricultural
Action Council, State of Alaska.

APRIL 1981


               -X    : /f
                              0  7

                      Brazil north of IW
    Tropical deforestation is the greatest
    environmental issue ever confronted in
 human history. It is proceeding apace far
 beyond the horizon, unheard and unseen,
 so distant as to seem inconsequential and
 esoteric. Never has the ecology of a region
 been altered so rapidly, in such an essen-
 tially irreversible fashion and, ironically,
 for so  little gain.
   Tropical rain forests are biologically the
 richest expanses of land found on earth,
 sometimes with ten acres containing three
 hundred species of trees compared to an
 average of twenty or so per acre in temper-
 ate forests. They cover only seven percent
 of the earth's land area yet support up to
 five million of the ten million forms of life
 estimated to exist worldwide today. The
 richness of these forests represents a bio-
 logical haven and storehouse of existing
 and potential genetic resources, most with
 capacity still unknown.
   Yet this terrestrial biological treasure
 trove is far from untouched. Today our
 tropical forests are diminishing at alarming
 and accelerating rates, to a point where
 they now cover only 66 percent of their
 original expanse. In the past century and a
 half, 1.5  billion acres have been devastated
 around the globe. Africa has destroyed over
 50 percent of its rain forests; over 40 per-
 cent of Asia's have disappeared, and  66
percent of Central America's original forests
 are already gone. Based on the projections
 outlined  in the Global 2000 Report,
 only one-fourth of the world's
 original forest cover may still stand twenty
 years hence. Worldwide these forests are
 being destroyed through settlement, land
conversion and harvesting of timber at a
 rate of 45 million acres per year. At this
 rate, there will be no rain forests left in
 80 years. The gloomy predictions of
 massive extinctions in the Global 2000
 Report stem mostly from tropical de-
   Population and economic growth place
the most  pressure on these forested re-
gions. The pressure for land for homes and
farms, and the need for firewood—the main
fuelsupplyfor75pe re entofthe earth's
people—are major causes of forest de-
struction. Thousands of acres are burned
to convert the land into pastures, often use-
ful for very short lifespans. In some parts of
the world, slash and burn commercial har-
vesting is creating deserts where jungles
stood not long before.
Destroying Future Medicines

The husbanding of biological diversity is of
inestimable value to medicine, industry,
and agriculture. The tropical forests are of
particular importance in this regard be-
cause such a large portion of the world's
species occur in them. More than one-
fourth of all prescriptions are biologic in
 origin, and many plants possess medicinal
 functions not yet discovered, let alone
 marketed. Two drugs recently developed
 from a tropical forest plant now give the
 leukemia sufferer an 80 percent greater
 chance of recovery. Many oils, resins, dyes,
 gums, and other commercially useful com-
 pounds can be found in the rain forests of
 the world. Presently researchers are work-
 ing with the plant genus Euphorbia, which
 contains a material similar to the hydrocar-
 bons found in  petrochemicals. Recently a
 tree (Copaiiera langsdorfii) was discovered
 in the Amazon basin which contains a sap
 that can be directly used to power diesel
 engines. Just two years ago,  a wild peren-
 nial corn was discovered  in southern Mex-
 ico, intriguing scientists with its potential
 for greatly simplifying corn production
 techniques. Yet this "lowly weed" lay in an
 area under extreme stress from nearby
 expanding human settlement.
   How many resources are yet to be dis-
 covered? What potential  contributions to
 human welfare are still out there, waiting to
 be tapped? Only by carefully examining
 existing rain forests and then, through care-
 ful planning, will we be able  to benefit fully
 from them. Needed resources are being
 wasted and sometimes eliminated. Scien-
 tists and conservationists everywhere must
 strive to reverse these destructive trends.

 Climate Changes

 The environmental effects of deforestation
 are increasingly significant as well. The
 climate may show modification through an
 increase of temperature which may in turn
 cause regional drying trends; polar ice caps
 may shrink and the sea level  rise. This
 could well result from atmospheric accum-
 ulation of carbon dioxide  and other gases,
 which would reflect radiated  heat back to
 the earth's surface. The fact that carbon
 dioxide is increasing is not questionable,
 but the causes are less clear. The tropical
 rain forests do represent an enormous re-
 serve of the earth's accessible carbon—up
 to 340 billion tons.
   Tropical forests play important roles in
 hydrological cycles. Forests  retain water,
 gradually releasing it throughout the year.
 By doing this, forests maintain a consistent
 supply of quality water, regulating flow to
 downstream agriculture, industry, and hu-
 man living areas. Further, it is estimated
 that 50 percent of Amazonian rainfall is
 induced by the rain forest itself. Tropical
 deforestation may also cause a drying
 trend in the jungles by destroying this
 capacity to generate rainfall.
   Rain forests are very efficient at cycling
 nutrients. In many instances most of the
 nutrients are locked up in  the living systems
and the soil is nutrient-poor. The ways in
which land is being deforested and used
after clearing must be looked at seriously
in terms of nutrient recycling. Harvest
problems must be studied in terms of con-
stant nutrient renewal and avoiding nutrient
loss. The trend, however, is one of de-
teriorating conditions.
  Deforestation as the result of timbering
occurs in two main ways. The first, modifi-
cation through selective logging, would
seem to least upset the forest ecosystem,
but in many instances techniques are crude
and the physical destruction goes beyond
the  removal of select trees. Erosion occurs,
nutrients are depleted jeopardizing regen-
eration, diversity is lowered, and balance
is upset. The economic benefits of the sec-
ond form, transformation forestry, are
immediate. But here too, problems arise
when the lack of diversity present in a
monoculture opens plantations up to the
influx of disease, pest plants and animals.
Yet it must be remembered that in principle
a well-managed plantation forest can meet
timber demands, taking pressure off the
natural forests.
Plans For Protection

The outlook for tropica! rain forests may
look unpromising thus far. Serious prob-
lems are on the rise, but there do exist
worthwhile efforts to deal with these prob-
lems. The Amazon forest area is one where
the fate is not as dark. Amazonia is covered
in more tropical forest than exists anywhere
else and 70 percent of its jungle is yet un-
touched. The understanding of how to
develop forests for the diverse resources
they offer, and the knowledge of how large
an ecosystem must be to sustain renewabil-
ity, are matters presently under study. The
Indonesian government is supporting policy
plans on management of island conserva-
tion; Costa Rica maintains a well estab-
lished national park system; Ecuador and
Colombia  are creating new protected areas;
Brazil has  more than tripled its national
park system in area in one and a half years
—worldwide, nations are approaching the
problem of development and conservation.
  The ultimate test of whether govern-
ments will rise to the challenge presented
by the awesome possibilities in the  Global
2000 Report or respond to the incontro-
vertible message of the World Conservation
Strategy about the mutual dependence of
conservation and development will  bo in
the tropical forest regions. The problems
are much harder there than elsewhere. Yet
the stakes are much greater, for so much  is
to be gained by keeping the 50 percent of
the world's variety of biological resources
they represent, and so little is gained from
the current treatment of tropical forests. [~]

Mr. Train  was EPA's second Administrator
and is now President of the World Wildlife
Fund, U.S.
APRIL 1981

Why Our
Topsoil is
An  interview with
Norman A. Berg,
     .-in A. Borcj
      It has been stated that the
average depth of topsoil in the
United States is now about
half of what it was when the
Pilgrims landed in the New
World. What is the signifi-
cance of this for the future?
A     I think that wherever roll-
     ing type land has been ex-
tensively used, we've lost a
large part of what was the orig-
inal topsoil. Maybe an average
of half of the original topsoil is
gone and in some cases it may
be all gone; we may be into the
subsoil. I've seen areas like
that. They show up dramatically
as you fly over rolling lands
where you can see the bald
spots or lighter areas. That loss
and  its importance depends on
how deep that soil was in the
first place. In many parts of the
country the loss has already oc-
curred. What we're concerned
about is avoiding continued
degradation of the soil. We
need to recognize that other
civilizations in the world have
suffered and we don't think this
country should have to go
through that because we have
the professional ability to help
land users improve their soil
and  not let it degrade.

      OWhen you say other civ-
      ilizations that have risen
and fallen because of this,
which ones would you have in
A     Well, the areas that have
     been written about over
time have surrounded the Med-
   I might mention that at the
invitation of the people of
China, we may be giving addi-
tional  assistance on soil conser-
vation to their government.
There are some good  results
from the standpoint of what
we're beginning to build in
terms of a new relationship
there. The people in India also
had  a fairly long history of ask-
 ing for and receiving our techni-
cal assistance. Other  parts of
the world also have been asking
for our guidance.

      QAre you giving technical
      assistance to China now?
     A team has just returned
 f '•• from China looking at the
kinds of things that they're in-
terested in. And the Chinese
have been here, and I think
we're opening up some areas
that we are both going to learn
from. They have some knowl-
edge and experience after four
or five thousand years of agri-
culture that we can gain consid-
erable knowledge from. And
we're not bashful about that
either. I think we need to know
what they've done and how
they've done it. So it's interest-
ing from the standpoint of our
particular agency.

     UYou mention the Chin-
     nese practicing certain
things thousands of years ago.
Would that be terracing  and
contour planting?
     Right. Very extensive work
     in terms of terracing and
leveling the land, very high
utilization of  all of the organic
wastes, and extreme dedication
to making certain that their agri-
cultural production is not im-
paired in any way. And they're
adding to their irrigation capa-
bility now. They have extensive
water management activities.
They've done work in aquacul-
ture—we can gain from their
knowledge in that area. They
still have very serious conserva-
tion problems, but they've got a
lot of good things going on too.

     Uln the service we can
     offer them, would that
be in tree planting programs,
for example?
A     Very much so. Our plant
     materials activities apply
to what they're doing. Some of
our technology in how we de-
sign and lay out the specifica-
tions for reservoir structures
would be helpful. We need to
recognize that they have a dif-
ferent type of economy and a
different way of doing their
work. It's more labor-intensive
than ours, but we can offer
technology that will help get
more results from what they're

     QFor the benefit of city-
     dwellers, what is the
importance of topsoil ?
     The loss of topsoil is of di-
.•  \  rect concern to consumers.
It costs them money. Just taking
sediment out of harbors is very
costly—improving quality of
water if it's been sedimented—
and you have other non-point
types of pollutants coming in
that are expensive to clean up.
There is concern over the op-
tions that are availabie to urban
people in  terms of how land is
used that provide not only our
food and  fiber and high quality
water, but what the opportu-
nities are for fish and wildlife.
They're concerned about the
availability of land for recrea-
tion. We still have in this great
country the options to have
these additional land and water
uses that  go beyond just the
production of  food and fiber.
And I think that people are going
to be concerned that those
options do exist for the future.
We've dedicated, of  course, a
sizable acreage in our country
—nearly  a third of our Nation
is in some sort of a public
domain use.
  One thing our people report
coming back from a country like
China is that we are very fortu-
nate in having alternatives for
the use of land and water that
go beyond just the necessities
to produce food and fiber. In
terms of the urban view of this
country, we must do the best
we possibly can to maintain
some of these options for the
future, and have land and water
dedicated to uses that include
food and  fiber production at a
dependable rate and at reason-
able cost  and yet have concern
about wetlands and the more
fragile areas of our ecosystems.

     QHave there been any ex-
     amples  of floods in the
United States due to improper
land use, comparable to the
1966 flood in Italy that was
partly attributed to overcut-
ting of forests upstream?
     Yes, we've had quite a few
/~\  regions of the Nation that
we can cite. Probably the most
dramatic  shift in terms of land
use has been in the South
where we had very extensive
cropping  that  went back for at
least a hundred years. That land
was highly eroded and subject
to flooding. It  has now moved
back primarily into trees and
grass—a very productive use
of the land. That land use shift
has been  very dramatic in the
last three decades. We attribute

some of that to the concern for
the soil and water losses and
the very serious flooding prob-
lems that had occurred. It's one
of the reasons for conservation
programs being strong and for
TVA being highly recognized in
that particular area. They had
very serious soil loss and flood-
ing problems, and now the land
use changes are dramatic. A
combination of extensive land
use changes back to trees and
land treatment on cropland
has changed the landscape

      QLast November the De-
      partment of Agriculture
predicted world reserves of
cereal grains would reach
their lowest level in 5 years
within a year. What are the
reasons for this, and what
remedies would you propose?
     It's perhaps easier to tell
/-\ some of the reasons, as
we understand it, than the rem-
edies. But, there isn't any ques-
tion about the reserves of cereal
grains being down. Even though
the grain production outside of
the U.S. has increased an aver-
age of 21 million tons per year,
the consumption has been rising
at the rate of about 25 million
tons annually. Therefore, we  do
have a gap. Then, on top of that,
we had the weather situation  in
several key places in the world,
including our own country, that
has caused some depletion in
carry-over stocks. There were
disappointing harvests world-
wide for a variety of  reasons
in 1980.
   The fact that we do face this
prospect just two years after we
had the largest global stocks of
grains in over a decade simply
underscored the continued vul-
nerability of our world food
situation and that the balance
between too much or too little
tilts easily and rapidly.
   In terms of soil and water
conservation, what we've been
concerned about is that our
basic land and water production
base is in place, is not degrad-
ing, is there for sustained yield,
and, hopefully, increases in
yields each year over a very long
period of time. Our evaluations
in the Soil Conservation Service
and in other agencies in the
Department connected with the
Resources Conservation Act are
looking at a 50-year time hori-
zon. So, even though that's a
long time, in terms of making
projections based on past his-
tory, it indicates that we are
concerned about a sound nat-
ural resource base. You need a
long-term look at it to make
some of the adjustments that
are important.

     QYou mentioned increased
      consumption. Is that due
to population growth through-
out the world?
A     Yes, no question about it.
     That's one of the things
that we've analyzed as to the
condition of the natural re-
sources. World population is on
a trend that will probably double
from where we are now by the
turn of the century.

      QThe U.S. is  losing about
      3 million acres of farm-
land a year to developers,
highway builders, and other
uses. Yet, a Harris poll com-
missioned  by USDA shows
that more than  50 percent of
Americans consider the loss
of good farmland a serious
problem. How do you view
this discrepancy?
     It's a fact that there are
     continued movements of
good productive agricultural
land to non-agricultural pur-
poses, in spite of the concern
that the public expressed.
   People have recognized the
problem, and they are con-
cerned about it and there are
some things underway which I
think will be helpful.
   A year andahalfagothe
Chairman of the Council on
Environmental Quality and the
Secretary of Agriculture com-
missioned,  along with several
of the other major U.S. agen-
cies, the National Agricultural
Lands Study. This is related to
the availability of agricultural
land. Their report released in
January has a much more de-
tailed analysis of the supply and
demand area that is concerned
with our land resources—what
is the trend and what's been
happening to agricultural lands,
especially our more important
farm lands moving from agri-
cultural to non-agricultural,
urban type uses.*
   Some aspects of this report
deal with what can be done at
the State and local level and the
proper role of each level of
government. There's a set of
recommendations that recog-
nize the importance of what the
Harris Poll people were telling
usand the fact that the loss is
getting a lot  of attention. This is
on the agenda of a lot of differ-
ent groups around the country.

      QWhat are the implica-
      tions forourfutu re if
this kind of  toss continues?
A     They're the soils that are
     usually quite level, quite
deep; they require a minimum
of conservation management to
be effective in terms of intensive
cropland use. They probably
require less energy use to pro-
duce a crop,  but because they
are level and accessible, they
are also extremely attractive to
non-agricultural uses, including
urbanization, highways, air-
ports, and that sort of thing.
That's why the movement of
these types of land to non-
agricultural uses has been
   The implications relate to
what this does to our produc-
tive capacity, especially when
we couple it  with continuing
soil erosion problems on our
intensively cropped lands. What
are the implications for in-
creased inputs such as fertil-
izers,  pesticides, and energy-
intensive activities to continue
to produce food in the quantity
that's needed and also at the
cost—in a most cost-effective
way—from the standpoint of
the price to the consumer?  The
National Agricultural Land
Study simply indicates many of
these  areas that are of concern
because of the nature of the
types  of soils that have been
moved from  agricultural to
urban uses.
   Many of the things that we're
talking about are regional or
local in character. Butthe
studies show that around our
major metropolitan areas,

" Ed note: A separate article on the
land study appears elsewhere in
this issue.
where the pressure is very high,
some of these important farm
lands are moving to non-agri-
cultural uses, and that's an
irretrievable loss. We also find
quite a dispersion out into rural
areas of industry and popula-
tion. The movement to the so-
called Sun Belt impacts areas
like Florida, Arizona, and
Southern California, where we
do have extensive areas of ex-
cellent agricultural lands that
are being given priority for

O      Some agricultural tech-
      nologists claim that,
because there are some 2.3
billion acres in the U.S., the
danger of "paving over" farm-
land is exaggerated and that
urban areas,  highways, etc.,
are on ly 2.7 percent of that
total. Do you have a response
to that?
A     Yes. It is a mixed story re-
     garding where people are
located as to how they view
this. In many of the local areas,
including my county in  Mary-
land, Anne Arundel  County,
they feel very much concerned
about this problem.  Now, Mary-
land itself is limited in terms of
its good agricultural land, so
there have been actions taken in
our State as there have been in
several others regarding this
problem. If we look at the 2.3
billion acre area in the country,
one might ask, isn't there very
amplelandforalluses? But we
need to pull that back to what
iands would be best for inten-
sive crop use. And it's consider
ably  less than this. It's a figure
that is slightly over 500 million

     That would be prime
     That's our better agricul-
   \  tural land that we would
classify as suitable for crop-
land. Much of that is now being
used for cropping. In terms of
data  there may be another 1 25
or 1 30 million acres that are
now in grass or trees that have
potential for cropland that could
under very special circum-
stances be brought back into
production, although this would
be somewhat costly  because of
the good uses that they're in
APRIL 1981

now for grass and trees pri-
marily, and wildlife cover. At
the same time, we do have in
present cropping perhaps 30 to
40 million acres that are mar-
ginally suited for this purpose.
So that latter balance of land
probably  should be moved out
of crop use and the land now in
another use could be shifted
back into crops. Really, when
you look at the long-range fu-
ture, there is not much over
what we now have as a reserve
that would be good land to con-
vert back to cropping if needed.

     QSome of these critics
     claim we create over 1
million cropland acres annu-
ally by swamp drainage, irri-
gation, and other techniques.
What is your view of this
A     Well, much of our produc-
     tive crop area in the coun-
try is because there has been
improved water management,
either because of problems that
wore related to too much or too
little water. And I think we'll
always have some of that some-
place in the country. We have
managed water and land  for a
long time to have land that is
now considered prime or very
important farmland. But the re-
strictions on what can be done
about the so-called wetlands
are increasingly prohibitive to
allow them to come into agricul-
ture. The possibility of new irri-
gated acres is becoming more
costly. Good reservoir sites are
pretty well used up. The under-
ground water supply is also of
major concern as to how ample
that is. In some areas it's being
drawn  down quite rapidly. So,
there's going to be less oppor-
tunity to  develop good agricul-
tural land from the standpoint
of removing too much water or
adding where we have too little.
The acres that then are available
to shift because of water  man-
agement to an intensive crop
use are going to be less than
what they have been in the past.
   Where we have good crop-
land because we added water or
we've taken away water that
wasn't needed, we're concerned
that those soils are properly
managed, so that they are held
primarily for agricultural pur-
poses, and that the systems that
have allowed them to become
highly productive for agricul-
ture are kept in place. And that's
going to require quite an invest-
ment because in many cases
they need to be updated.

     UA number of States have
     enacted laws to protect
their wetlands because
they've realized in recent
years these are valuable eco-
logically as spawning ground
for aquatic life, and also act
as filters to remove sediment.
Do you believe that draining
these wetlands to create
farmland may be  counter-
     Well, there are concerns
     regarding land use no
matter how you shift. If land is
now in grass or trees, but could
be considered potential crop-
land, there are going to be ob-
jections to that land coming out
of grass or trees because there
are people concerned about
those types of uses. It's equally
true of land that's  been identi-
fied as wetlands; there are laws
in several States that protect
those types of land as they pro-
tect other ecologically vulner-
able areas. This limits the types
of lands that would have been
available for transition one way
or the other without too much of
a handicap. It is also very costly
to try to do something about
these water management prob-
lems. That cost increases
annually because of many other
pressures including inflation,
roughly  10 to 20 percent each

n     The Soil  Conservation
-_-_ Service is making an in-
ventory of prime and other
farmlands. Is there a relation-
ship of this inventory to the
Surface Mining Control and
Reclamation Act of 1 977?
A     The 1 977 Act itself does
     require the restoration of
prime farmlands after mining.
The mining plan itself has to
indicate how that will be done
before the mining  permit is
granted. We have helped iden-
tify along with the State agen-
cies  responsible for mining
activities the extent of those
prime lands that would be dis-
turbed by mining. Although the
Act does not obviously prohibit
surface mining of prime land, it
is concerned for the future use
of those lands so that they are
commensurate with good agri-
cultural practices.
  This area is in litigation, as
you may know, in terms of
whether or not the Federal Act
has in some way infringed on
State and local responsibility in
how land should be used and
how it should be controlled.
But, we're providing the techni-
cal data regarding the types of
soils, the measures that would
be needed to restore it to a
productive use.

Q     You're in essence say-
     ing, "This is prime land
and if you want to go ahead
and strip mine it, that decision
is yours, but at least you're
aware of what you're doing."
     Alt's more complicated than
     that. But we're providing
the technical data to help people
determine what kinds of lands
are on the surface  to begin with,
and what kinds of  lands would
be important to recognize in  the
mining process as needing
some restoration.

     Can stripped land be
 A  Yes, we have been doing a
f~\ lot of work along this line,
cooperating with the companies
that do the mining. Several
States have laws that they think
should be in place to help do
this sort of thing. There's more
research needed to get at the
most effective ways of doing
this. Incidentally, we're spend-
ing quite a bit of time, too, on
helping reclaim those lands that
have been left in an "orphaned
stage," where it is almost a no-
man's-land that has been mined
over many years in the past
when we didn't have the resto-
ration policies we  now have.
Those so-called abandoned
areas, highly erosive or dam-
aging from the standpoint 01
water quality, are being exam-
ined as to what can be done to
restore them to some sort of
productive use including recre-
ation, wildlife habitat, or, in
some cases, even agriculture.
     nin the aftermath of the
 ^^. Dust Bowl era of the
1 930's, many trees and
hedges were planted as wind-
breaks on farms in the Plains
States. We understand some
are being cut down now as
firewood or to expand farms.
Is there any effort to replace
them to prevent environmen-
tal damage?
     First of all, the windbreaks
/~\ and shelter belts in that
region were introduced by hu-
man beings because it wasn't
a natural tree country. Although
many of these areas were
planted back in the Dust Bowl
days, people also began quite
an extensive tree planting pro-
gram in the Plains area even
before then. Some of these trees
and hedgerows are now being
removed  because in many cases
these windbreaks and shelter
belts under present standards
are outdated. The trees are not
the best species to have in that
area. They really have gone
through a process  in that many
of them are just naturally going
to disappear anyway. And we
have better recommendations
now in terms of tree species,
planning and design, that are
going to offset the loss.
   We made a special study to
estimate the miles of wind-
breaks that had been removed
in five of the Great Plains
States. There were something
over 1,100 miles removed  dur-
ing a five-year period in the
1970's, But there were still
nearly 39,000  miles of these
windbreaks still in place. So,
about 3 percent of the total had
been removed  during that
period. They were removed, in
some cases, because the wind-
break had to be replaced any-
way. In other cases, they had
been removed  because the large
areas they were covering
weren't needed under our pres-
ent designs. Some of the mod-
ern equipment, including pivot
irrigation, has caused some
re-thinking of where these trees
should be located  and their
height. Our studies also show
that there is more replacement
of windbreaks  that have been
taken out than  what is being
removed. So, I think we're hold-
ing our own on this one.
                                                                             EPA JOURNAL

                                                    n Michigan.
   There needs to be more
encouragement to have land
users keep this conservation
measure in place. There are a
lot of people who are not going
to give up some type of tree
protection in the Plains and
other areas where we encour-
aged farmstead windbreaks,
and shelterbelts, because
they've learned to like that  sort
of an environment. They are
very happy about seeing trees
on the horizon, and they're
going to try to keep something

Q     These hedges, we under-
     stand, are also breeding
places and  protective shelters
for a lot of game bird species
that are very desirable.
A     Very much so. They have
     a multiple use including
wildlife. They have consider-
able value for holding down
the ravages of wind in terms of
soil erosion. They are desirable
from the standpoint of lowering
the costs of heating in winter.
Some have been quite effective
in restoring moisture through
snow. Another reason as to why
some are troublesome, they do
act as a kind of snow fence. In
some cases they weren't prop-
erly designed, and the highway
people ended up having to fight
snow drifts all winter. So we've
had to move some back  away
from the road.

Q     You mean they caused
     drifting of snow?
A     Yes,  but in the wrong
     place. It's great to have
that drifting to hold the snow
on the farm or ranch field, but
when it ended up right in the
middle of the highway, that
wasn't good. There's another
thing about this area that I
think you might recognize.
We're working throughout the
country with the private land
users of the Nation, and most
of this kind of action is a sizable
investment on their part. The
payoff comes very, very slowly
to them. What is the proper mix
of things that would cause a
private land user to do these
things in the interest of the
public? How can society share
part of the cost of doing this
sort of thing?  What types of in-
centives will cause people to do
this sort of thing that is fairly
long-range, and benefits the
public perhaps more than it
does the individual land user?
     QHow does that tree plant-
     ing program work? Do
you fund it? Or do you simply
give the information to the
farmers and they plant?
     It's a combination of sev-
/% eral things. Both we and
the Forest Service have pro-
grams that aid in developing
the best types of species  and
types of planting design that
are most desirable to have
in a particular geographic
part of the country. Then we
offer the technical information
and assistance needed to de-
sign the windbreak. The Con-
servation Districts have done
an excellent job of securing
the planting stock, in some
cases, the equipment that
wouldn't be profitable for an
individual farmer or rancher to
buy can be made available. So
there's a whole series of things
that have developed over
nearly 50 years to help an indi-
APRIL 1981

vidual land user when he
decides that he wants to plant
some trees. The sources are
local and available, and they're
ready to go when the planting
season opens up. That plus the
necessary follow-up to ensure
that the planting gets the proper
care and is going to be suc-
cessful. A combination of State
and Federal funding plus the
technical assistance that we
provide through the Conser-
vation Districts has been part
of thn incentive to the land
user. It's a very good activity
that oach year results in more
and more trees being planted.
     ONew England farms suf-
     fered a heavy outflow of
population in the 1 9th Cen-
tury due to various factors.
Are they making any kind of
A    We've worked quite closely
     with the farm and agricul-
tural and other interests in rural
areas in the New England states
to examine the condition of
their resources. They especially
worried during the energy
crunch earlier that they were on
the far end of the distribution
line for many of the food prod-
ucts they depend on. What was
the future of agriculture in that
area ? There's also concern on
the part of younger people
having access to farming as
lifestyle. And so they led the
effort quite early to retain their
important farmlands. Now a lot
of those lands have just natu-
rally moved from agricultural to
other uses, but they're  not yet
urbanized. They're primarily in
trees. As our agricultural pro-
duction has moved from New
England westward as the better
soils opened up in other regions,
they have asked how best to
keep a viable agriculture in New
Criojcind. because you  get down
to a critical mass in terms of
how many farms are still in an
area. And, unless you keep them
in a viable setting, the  infra-
structure begins to disappear,
the markets, the roads, and all
that sort of thing. The question
was examined  in the National
Agricultural Land  Study.
     You served as U.S. Co-
     Chairman of a joint U.S.-
Canadian water quality study
that looked into sedimentation
and other problems affecting
the Great Lakes. What were
its conclusions, particularly
on soil erosion?
A     The International Joint
     Commission has been in
business for a long time—for
all of this century, and during
the 1 960's and the early part of
the 1970's, there developed
a major international  concern
about the quality of the water
in the Great Lakes. At that time
it was quite evident that Lake
Erie, especially, was  in serious
condition. So a water quality
agreement was promulgated by
the two nations, specifically
aimed at improving the water
quality in the Great Lakes. As
part of that effort they set up a
special reference group  that I
chaired for the U.S. My Co-
Chairman was Dr.  Murray
Johnson from Canada. We were
charged with looking at the
effect of land use in both coun-
tries on water quality. We
studied that area, set up several
pilot watershed projects, evalu-
ated all of the knowledge that
was available, and came up with
a long series of recommenda-
tions to the Commission. They
have adopted these recommen-
dations for the most part and
have sent them on to the govern
ments of both countries, na-
tional,  State and local, as to
actions that were needed.
   We did find a very close con-
nection between how land  is
used and the effect on water
quality. Soil loss, erosion, and
sedimentation, the result of
soil loss, were factors. Water
runoffs carried certain things
from the soil that can damage
water quality, especially phos-
phorous, and some pesticides
and insecticides. We made a
very extensive series of recom-
mendations that included con-
centration on areas that were
critical as sources of problems,
incorporating proper land use
practices and conservation mea-
sures in the planning process of
local governments, and empha-
sizing the types  of incentives for
land users to give this more
attention.  This ranged all the
way from  improving the way in
which soils are managed, to
protecting the streams, han-
dling the organic wastes in a
more acceptable manner, and
the problems of urbanization
where  lands are moved from
rural to urban uses. You can
produce a lot of sediment dur-
ing highway, housing or shop-
ping center construction. We
also looked at the governmental
institutions and how they func-
tion, recognizing that it's a
State and tocal problem on the
U.S. side that needs to be
strengthened. We were en-
couraged by the work of U.S.
Conservation Districts. They
are giving these recommenda-
tions very high priority.

     ODo Americans have a
 — strong ethic to conserve
the soil?
     I've talked to many of the
f\ Conservation District
leaders in this country. As you
knowthere are about3,000 Con-
servation Districts, usually rep-
resenting an area about the size
of a county. They're governing
boards of people not necessarily
all farmers, ranchers, or for-
esters. There's a mixture of
people serving these governing
boards including urban inter-
ests. Among these people, there
is a strong land use and soil
conservation ethic. They have,
cooperating with their Conser-
vation  Districts in the country,
nearly two million participants
who express, through a volun-
                                                            -   •••    '


tary process, a desire to do a
better job managing their soil
andwater.And so I think we
have a pretty sound foundation
here that for nearly 50 years
people have been willing to do
something about serious soil
loss, water quality, or any
other resource problem that
relates to their management of
the land. There are others, of
course, perhaps far removed
from the area, who own land
with tenants on the property
who may not have that view.
But there are many people that
are concerned about the  future
of their land because they know
it will be passed on to the next
generation. Some of these peo-
ple are handling the  land as
maybe the fifth, sixth, or  sev-
enth generation in that particu-
lar family.
   I had the good fortune to look
at land operations in the  Scan-
dinavian  countries last fall,
And I was on land that had been
farmed for a thousand years.
We do not yet have that history
in this country.
   One other thing about  Scan-
dinavians. They have a genera I
philosophy that the land belongs
to all the people. Translated
into practice, this means that
you often see city dwellers on
weekends and after hours hik-
ing through woods because  they
have the  right to do this.  It nur-
tures a respect in everyone for
the land. Their local  govern-
ments also  encourage city
dwellers to go to the country
and work on farms to help the
farmers during the summer.
This instills a genuine feeling
among the people for the land,
almost a  religion, that is  very
important for the well-being of
the country. The children are
taught this from their earliest
years. There's a much stronger
land use  ethic that is very uni-
form throughout those coun-
tries than what we have in the
   But we have an excellent be-
ginning on this. And each year,
in nearly every county of the
country,  there  is a strong dedi-
cation to what they call the soil
stewardship concept. This is
sponsored by the Conservation
Districts and the churches of
the country. It indicates a very
deep concern for the land.

     You mention the Scandi-
\_jf- navian countries. Was
it your impression that those
people were mostly living
and working on their own
property rather than absentee
 A  Yes. That's one of their
/"  \ strong tenets, that farming
and forestry operations are con-
ducted by people who do own
that property. They are not very
high on having land operated
by a tenant.
  Our Conservation Dis-
tricts, locally organized
and governed by local people,
have a great deal of experience
that they can call on to cause
people to be concerned about
how their property is handled.
We're finding that in areas
where there is neglect of prop-
erty, there are nuisance laws
that have been  called on.

     What do you think is
\JL the most important step
we can take to combat loss of
our soils?
     First of all, create an
/~\ awareness of the severity
of the problem. There are still
very serious soil losses from our
intensively-used croplands. It's
exceeding perhaps two billion
tons annually.  In addition, we
have another billion tons of
soil loss from stream banks,
gully type erosion, construction
sites, that sort  of thing, So we
need an awareness of the fact
that there is a serious problem.
   Now where is this problem
occurring? We can identify the
types of land areas that are
most vulnerable. We can iden-
tify the types of crops that tend
to induce serious soil loss un-
less the land is properly man-
aged. We can offer, once people
are aware of the problem, most
of the technical guidance that's
needed to correct the problem.
In some cases, this is a matter
of the types of  land use that is
practiced. Some land is better
suited for cropping than others.
And if it's used for cropping,
then it requires a certain type
of conservation system. If land
is used for cropping and it
would be better in grass or
trees, we can make that recom-
   The providing of knowledge
and the translation of that
knowledge into a plan and then
into action are obviously the
things we have to do to combat
these losses. We do have some
chronic and critical areas that
we don't have good answers
for. We need to have additional
studies of how best to work on
those problems. We've identi-
fied them. We're willing to dedi-
cate and target additional re-
sources  into those areas to see
what can be done. A good ex-
ample is West Tennessee,
where all of the agencies at the
local and State level are coop-
erating to do more to aid that
area, to identify the problem
and to come up with some bet-
ter answers.

      What is unique about
      West Tennessee?
A     Well, it's a highly erosive
     area, along the Mississippi
River. We've also found a con-
siderable land shift there as the
demand for more soybeans
came in the last decade. That's
responding to the market, but
it's also putting a very heavy
stress on those fragile resources
that are very vulnerable because
of the combination of soils and
rainfall andthatsortofthing.

      OWhat happens after you
      harvest the soybeans
and the land is left bare?
     Alt's very valuable. There is
     water erosion in that area,
the soil loss is much in excess
of what we consider a tolerable
level.Wehavean average loss
in this country that nature can
replenish of about five tons per
acre per year. In those areas that
we are talking about we may be
exceeding 35-40 tons.

      Qln  a place like Western
     Tennessee, is it a
matter of planting a cover
crop after the soybeans are
harvested to hold the land in
     Some land that should not
     be cropped can be re-
planted to grass or trees. And
it's notan easy thing because
that's usually a loss in terms of
immediate cash income. In
other cases, if land is suitable
for cropping, it needs a very ex-
tensive conservation system,
including grass waterways and
contouring and perhaps ter-
racing if that's a practice that
fits that particular area. A whole
series of things can be done to
improve the way in which the
land is handled. Yes, they do
need some kind of cover on that
soil to the  maximum extent.
One of the rapidly growing  prac-
tices that we're encouraging is
what we call minimum tillage.
It's a matter of leaving the resi-
dues being produced by the
crops to the maximum on the
surface. This means the land is
disturbed the least possible to
get the next crop in. And that is
good practice in that area.

Q      Given  the soil loss fig-
      ures, are there any indi-
cations that farm production
will deciineas a result, or
can we compensate with other
farming techniques?
     One of  the things we've
     identified in our studies of
the effectiveness of the con-
servation programs is that top-
soil loss and the effect on crop
yields has been masked or  cov-
ered up by our new technology
that's come in  place the last
three or four decades.  We've
made tremendous strides in
introducing new varieties of
pesticides, herbicides, and
additional mechanization that
have tended to offset the soil
loss effect on crop yields. But
we're at a  point now where that
is not as available in the form
of new technology. The annual
yields per  acre show a decrease
or at least a plateau from the
standpoint of past trends, so
we're estimating that, for in-
stance on corn yields, they  can
decline three or four bushels per
acre for every inch of top soil
lost. And in terms of a  long-
term projection, we're suggest-
ing that, unless farm production
technology continues to in-
crease at the rate that it had
earlier, the effects of soil loss
are going to  be quite serious in
some sections of the country for
certain types of crops. We  do
need additional research to
have available the technology
we had in  the past. D

   This interview was conducted
by Truman Temple, Associate
Editor of EPA Journal.
APRIL 198'

•>t » .*»<•
    •«  * ' •


A     chain of massive sewer
      explosions blew deep
 craters along two miles of
 streets in Louisville, Ky., in
 February and left the city with
 the shorl-term possibility of a
 health hazard and the long-term
 problem  of how to pay more
 than $40 million in damages.
   The cause of the disaster is
 believed  to have been a highly
 explosive chemical, hexane,
 which may have escaped from
 a nearby  industry. EPA's Region
 4 Office in Atlanta took part in
 the investigation of the explo-
 sion's cause. The results of the
 inquiry have been turned over
 to the Justice Department.
   The Louisville explosions are
 a warning to other cities around
 the country of the dangers from
 leaks or spills of toxic materials
 into municipal sewer systems.
   The explosions collapsed
 almost two full blocks of Hill
 Street, a  city thoroughfare, and
 catapulted manhole covers  and
 jagged pieces of concrete into
 a wide area. The explosions
 broke water mains, interrupted
 electricity and caused natural
 gas leaks. At least four people
 were  injured.

 (A) A large hole grows deeper
 on 9th Street just south of Hill
 Street. One of the big main
 sewer intersections was located

 (B) Louisville Water Co. em-
 ployees checked for leaks after
 the explosion in the sewer
 system blew a huge crater in
 the pavement at Seventh Street
 and Jordan A venue.

 (C) Yards of pavement col-
 lapsed on Hill Street after the
 blasts along the city sewer line.

 (D) Gary Sullivan stood in the
 bathroom of his apartment on
 South Second Street after a
 manhole  cover crashed through
his ceiling and floor and dam-
 aged the  apartment below.

 These photos are Copyright ©
 1981, The Courier-Journal and
Louisville  Times Co. Reprinted
with permission.
APRIL 1981


The Global
of American
By Dav            'ock
 n the present era of global resource
  scarcity, the United States is exception-
ally well endowed with a valuable asset—
cropland. Favorable climatic conditions
and extraordinarily efficient production
methods allow this American land base to
produce an agricultural bounty unmatched
in any other nation. This productivity has a
significant effect on international trade,
which in turn affects the domestic economy
in such  areas as food prices and the de-
mand for agricultural land. American agri-
culture  has for many years been attuned to
a domestic and foreign market system  that
operates in a semi-automatic, self-balanc-
ing manner. However,  accelerating United
States involvement in export agriculture
during the last decade, and the world food
situation in general, have created new prob-
lems  and forces.
  The extent to which U.S. agriculture has
become dependent on  overseas markets
can be gauged from the following indica-
tors.  In  the early 1950's, ten percent of the
American farmer's cash earnings came from
exports. Today the figure is 25 percent.
Export volumes increased by 77 percent in
the decade between 1967 and 1977. Inter-
national trade in the coarse grains and  oil-
seeds, which the U.S. dominates through
its prolific corn and soybean production,
has tripled since the late 1 960's due to
rising incomes in the more affluent coun-
tries. This reflects in part an increased
demand for meat and dairy products pro-
duced with internationally-traded grain.
The U.S. export market for grains for direct
human consumption also has expanded
due to population growth and modest in-
come increases in poorer nations. The
potential.for expansion in the latter market
is considerable.
                                                                           A Political Force

                                                                           As events have shown in the post-World
                                                                           War II era, the capacity of the United States
                                                                           to produce more food than it consumes has
                                                                           important political and humanitarian as
                                                                           well as economic consequences. Economic
                                                                           benefits and costs, although complex, can
                                                                           be calculated with some precision. Other
                                                                           less easily quantified benefits are associ-
                                                                           ated with U.S. food exports and with aid
                                                                           shipments made outside the market system.
                                                                           For example, there is a direct linkage be-
                                                                           tween food availability and political
                                                                           stability. Though difficult to measure, these
                                                                                                  EPA JOURNAL

benefits are nevertheless real and add to
the social utility of maintaining an abundant
supply of readily available agricultural
lands in this country. One benefit is the
diplomatic advantage of having other na-
tions perceive the U.S. as capable of sus-
taining and increasing food exports over
the long run. Another results from the U.S.
ability to fulfill humanitarian obligations for
food assistance to  less-developed nations.
   Growing dependence on overseas agri-
cultural trade imposes increased pressures
on the land, potentially adverse environ-
mental impacts, and social costs affecting
the traditional American family farm. These
costs typically are not included in calcula-
tions of the country's international agricul-
tural trade balance. The surplus balance
that has been realized from this trade sector
is an important offset of the deficit incurred
in other trade sectors as a result of large
U.S. petroleum imports. So long as inter-
national trade in these other sectors is
heavily in the red, there will be strong
economic incentives for maintaining, and
wherever possible expanding,  overseas
shipments of farm products. Even in the
absence of a strong need for earning for-
eign exchange, the American farmers'
never ending quest for higher prices would
exert pressure for exports.
                                             To the extent that the loss or degradation
                                           of its farmland could affect the United
                                           States' ability to produce food for trade and
                                           aid, such loss would unavoidably have in-
                                           ternational economic and political conse-
                                           quences. This possibility is not normally
                                           considered in domestic debates on land
                                           use, nor  does it receive priority attention in
                                           the continuing debate over United States
                                           foreign agricultural policies. Nonetheless,
                                           one expert in the field has stated that "to
                                           the extent that agricultural land use be-
                                           comes a  tool of foreign policy, we can
                                           expect this to be the greatest influence upon
                                           competition for land in the United States in
                                           our time."
Pressure on U .S. Cropland

The value of United States agricultural ex-
ports was expected to total $39.7 billion in
1980. Subtracting an anticipated $18
billion in agricultural imports, this leaves a
positive trade balance of $21.7 billion.
Significantly, the nation is expected to run
a total trade deficit of $33 billion in calen-
dar year 1 980, up from $24.7 billion in
1979. This increase primarily derives from
an onerous $90 billion in petroleum im-
ports. Favorable agricultural trade there-
fore  offsets about one-fourth of the foreign
oil bill. There is reason to believe that the
agricultural sector will in fact be called
upon to generate similar  or greater sur-
pluses until the United States achieves
greater energy independence. Further
pressures on cropland thus can be expected
—both in terms of the intensiveness of
cultivation and the area required. As Philip
Raup has observed, the acreage devoted to
exports has increased from  50 million in
1950 to 100 million in 1975 and 133 mil-
lion in 1978. "In terms of competition for
the land, we have reached a degree of agri-
cultural export dependency for which
parallels can only be found in the ante-
bellum cotton South or in our Colonial era,"
he notes.
  World population is expected to increase
from a present level of 4.4 billion to 6
billion or more by the year 2000. Lagging
agricultural productivity  in the developing
nations, where the major portion of this
population growth is occurring, thus can be
expected to generate continuing demands
for more direct food aid and concessional
  Immediate export pressures on the U.S.
presumably will be on the coarse grain
croplands, for example the Middle West;
however, rangeland areas in the West and
Southwest, and forest and range areas of
the Southeast and Delta States could be
affected in futureyearsas well if expand-
ing overseas markets prompt their  conver-
sion  to cropland use. Such conversion will
eliminate any forest, range, or pasture uses
to which these acres previously may have
been put.
   The present extent of malnutrition in
countries unable to finance necessary im-
ports signals pervasive overseas food prob
lems that generate special foreign policy
concerns. Malnutrition, famine and actual
starvation normally are perceived as hu-
manitarian problems, but they hold obvious
political implications as well. Economic
expectations are rising in many countries;
governmental failure to meet minimal
demands for food and employment can
trigger social and political unrest and, in
some instances, revolution.
   During the early1970's product!on short-
falls in several parts of  the globe and a
Soviet  decision to import feedgrains on a
massive scale in the face of domestic crop
failures enabled the United States to draw
down its  surplus stocks and bring soil-
banked land back under cultivation to meet
an unprecedented export demand. It now
appears that this demand may persist, sub-
ject to  cyclical variations, for years or even
decades, as  a result of such global phe-
nomena as population growth, the increas-
ing magnitude and frequency of natural and
man-made disasters, and rising affluence
and the consequent demands for more and
better food. American agriculture produc-
tivity is thus beginning to be perceived  in
terms of new, trade-oriented economic and
political opportunities, while food aid is
becoming a more costly proposition in the
face of rising prices and budget stringen-
cies. The practical result of the latter devel-
opment is that cereal exports (as food aid)
wereonlyabout6mill ion tons in 1980,
whereas the level was 13.5 million tons in
1960 and 10 million tons in 1970.
Leading Export

The economic aspects of United States
dominance in the international grain trade
have both domestic and international politi-
cal ramifications. Agricultural sales abroad
lead all other export earnings and thus help
to remedy chronic balance of payments
problems and shore up the declining value
of the dollar. In another sense, agricultural
exports provide an outlet for surplus pro-
duction that otherwise would lower farm
income. However, some critics of current
U.S. export policies believe that the growth
of international trade may be strengthening
large-scale farming operations at the ex-
pense of weakening the traditional family
farm system. The trend toward increasingly
large farming operations is placing the
smaller operators and prospective young
farmers at a distinct disadvantage.
   Virtually all futures scenarios for the
world predict a worsening petroleum
supply situation in the 1980's and 1990's,
especially as the USSR begins to compete
as a net importer.
APRIL 1981

   Since grain is likely to remain a principal
source of export earnings for the United
States, it can be perceived as a primary
means of paying the rising oil bill. In the
past surplus grain could be funneled into
foreign aid at an actual savings in storage
costs, land set-asides and other domestic
subsidies. In the future, each bushel that is
given away, whether for purely human-
itarian reasons or for political motives or a
combination of  the two, will "cost" what it
could have brought in the world market.
The fact that the quantity of U.S. cereals
aid has declined from 10 million tons in
1970 to 6 million tons in fiscal 1980 un-
derscores the economic realities now
Plowing to the Fence Posts

The sudden expansion of export trade
beginning in 1 973 temporarily eliminated
surpluses but imposed new pressure on
agricultural land. Farmers plowed "fence
post to fence post," resorted to more mono-
cropping, and utilized heavier equipment
and more fertilizer and pesticides. The
results have been described as "soil
mining." In retrospect, it may be asked
whether world market prices really com-
pensated for the longer term damages
incurred. For example, the  annual economic
impact of soil compaction alone has been
estimated to be as much as $3 billion.
Erosion is potentially an even greater prob-
lem. U.S. cropland erosion in excess of the
Tolerable level of 5 tons per acre per year
was calculated by USDA at about 1 billion
tons in 1978.
   There is no question about the legitimacy
of the humanitarian sentiments underlying
public support for expansive United States
food aid in the post-World  War II era, or for
that matter following World War I. None-
theless, it must be admitted that actual
decisions to donate food in massive quan-
tities were based at least partially on the
fact that it was available, cheap, badly
needed by the recipients, and accordingly
likely to pay good political  dividends.
Eliminating storage costs was also a power-
ful incentive. The negative feature was that
in some instances free (or at least very
cheap) food depressed local market prices
and thus discouraged the development of
local farming abroad. Nations remained on
the dole when in some instances they could
have become largely self-sufficient in basic
diet essentials while graduating into cash
customers for American feedgrains and
other ingredients of a better diet.
   This leads to ethical questions concern-
ing the world population problem. To what
extent is the United States  obligated to use,
and possibly degrade, its croplands to feed
nations which fail to restrain population
growth or to reform feudal  agricultural
systems? Governments which follow high
birth rate policies or give only token atten-
tion to family planning while simultane-
ously neglecting their own land resources
and rural development could be viewed as
seeking a disproportionate share of the
world'sfood production.
Helping Others Grow More Food

Probably the most efficient way to eliminate
hunger in the poorer nations over the long
term is not through food aid or concessional
sales but rather through technical assist-
ance that will enable these nations to pro-
duce more of their own food and to expand
employment opportunities. This would be
in the U.S. self-interest because it would
decrease pressures on the domestic agri-
cultural base, help to restrain the upward
movement of domestic food prices, and
contribute to political stability and overall
   Another ethical question relates to the
adverse environmental  effects that could
result from even more intensified U.S. food
production for overseas consumption. This
could invoke excessive use of pesticides
(notwithstanding the present availability of
integrated pest management systems),
other types of chemical pollution, soil
degradation—including compacting, salin-
ization and alkalinization—and the accele-
rated depletion of groundwater resources.
   If, for all the obvious economic and po-
litical reasons, agriculture is an important
American foreign policy asset, would a
material decrease in agricultural  land avail-
ability significantly affect the United States
ability to achieve its overseas objectives?
The adverse effects would not stem from an
immediate threat of devastating cropland
loss but rather from a possible long-term
trend in which the gradual but steady dis-
                      *?     \
                      i  >;
                 "*   '»-%.*,

appearance of our best land undermined
the agricultural productivity upon which
these foreign policy objectives were based.
National Vs. Local Interests

Irrespective of public interest or under-
standing, cropland availability can help or
hinder the attainment of foreign policy
objectives because it has a direct bearing
on productivity and hence on the United
States' credibility as an agricultural super-
power. However, foreign policy is the exclu-
sive preserve of the Federal Government,
whereas most land use planning, regulation
and taxation occurs at the State or local
   Since over-production and consequent
low market prices have posed problems to
American agriculture over the years,
optimal short term land policies may differ
markedly from those that would be con-
sistent with longer-term foreign policy
interests of the country.
   The fact that cropland conservation and
the enhancement of agricultural produc-
tivity for foreign relations objectives do not
mesh neatly with near-term market con-
cerns does not mean that the latter set of
problems should predominate or that tradi-
tional responses are the only ones available.
When prime agricultural land is converted
to other uses according to current economic
rationale, reconversion to agriculture in
response to some future need is generally
impossible, or at best very costly. This
suggests that the national interest will best
be served by more coordinated Federal,
State and local planning that perceives of
land as important in a combined local,
national, and global context. Such planning
need not involve compromises so much as
the resurrection of what the naturalist Aldo
Leopold so eloquently argued for in his
writings: The land ethic.
   International relations in the 1980's and
1990's are likely to be influenced by re-
source scarcities to a considerably greater
extent than in the past. These, rather than
conventional political  rivalries, will pose
increasing dangers to global  security.
While the fossil energy situation poses the
most immediately visible problem, failure
within the developing world to pace popula
tion growth with  agricultural development
could generate a  comparable or even more
critical food security problem well before
the end of the century. In these  circum-
stances, or even in the less severe world
food situation now prevailing, American
cropland must be perceived as a global as
well as a national resource. D

David McClintock is a specialist on food
and agriculture in the State Department's
Office of Food arid Natural Resources. The
above was excerpted from an article for the
National Agricultural Lands Study.

A Helping  Hand
for Indonesia

A      government van recently drew up at
      the Indonesian Embassy in Washing-
 ton, D.C. to discharge some 25 cartons
 from EPA.
   The boxes were addressed to a number
 of universities in Indonesia and to Dr. H.
 Emil Salim, State Minister for Development
 Supervision and the Environment. Inside
 were hundreds of documents describing
 the laws and regulations that the United
 States has created over the past decade
 dealing with environment.
   The shipment is one example  of how this
 Nation is exporting not only pollution con-
 trol equipment but the whole philosophy of
 environmental protection including the con-
 cept of a permit system, government grants
 to encourage communities, and the decen-
 tralized approach  to local enforcement.
   The gift was made possible by C.
 William Carter, EPA Deputy Assistant
 Administrator for Resources  Management,
 who has acquired an extensive knowledge
 of environmental and conservation prob-
 lems in Indonesia over the past dozen
 years. When Dr. Salim visited Washington
 last year looking for help in establishing a
 system of environmental management for
 his country, one official quickly referred
 him to Carter, who revealed during the
 course of the meeting his first-hand
 experience with Indonesia's development.
 Rich Hardwood Resources

 Carter's interest in the archipelago in the
 South Pacific began in 1969 when he was
 sent there by the First National City Bank of
 New York to look into opportunities for a
 new branch the institution was setting up
 in Djakarta. One of the things that sparked
 his interest was the forests of mahogany
 representing the largest single stand of
 homogeneous tropical hardwood in the
   "Very little provision had been made
 either to develop or to conserve this very
 rich resource," he explained. "At the same
 time, Indonesian officials were opening up
 the country to investment by industry from
 other nations and bringing in technicians to
 help restore the economy. So much needed
 to be done."
   Carter, an economist, become so in-
trigued by the forests that he later went back
and wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on the
Indonesian timber industry at the Fletcher
School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts Uni-
versity. He also served in 1971 -72 as a con-
sultant to the Indonesian  Ministry of
Finance on taxes and industrial policy. Last
fall Carter again visited Indonesia, under
auspices of the Agency for International
Development, to gather material for a
report on the status of that country's
environmental protection efforts.
   The assistance by EPA and AID comes at
a time when Indonesia is pressing forward
in a number of areas to improve the quality
of life for its people. The nation is building
15 environmental research centers at uni-
versities, and its Ministry for Development
Supervision and the Environment is work-
ing on a new draft environmental law and
water quality guidelines to lay the ground-
work for environmental programs.
   "in its third Five Year Plan," Carter
notes, "Indonesia hopes to press forward
with a number of larger projects where
attention to environmental issues will
require extensive management effort and
resources. It also has to weigh carefully the
environmental effects of what it has done
over the last ten years." One example of
future construction is a natural gas field in
the Natuna Islands west of Borneo which,
when developed, would be one of the
largest in the world.
   "Unfortunately, it also would have a fair
share of complicated environmental prob-
lems that have national and potentially
international spill-over effects," he said.
   "Another example is industrial pollution.
There are increasing reports of mercury
poisoning of fish and other problems related
to toxic industrial effluent in the large cities.

Under the leadership of Dr. Salim, Indone-
sia is beginning to build the capacity to
evaluate the nature and scope of the
problems," he declared.
Population Pressures

Indonesia's efforts in environmental man-
agement are arriving none too soon. Once
described as a Pacific paradise, this collec-
tion of islands stretching 3,400 miles along
the Equator south of the Philippines and
Vietnam is beginning to suffer a number of
20th century problems. The pressures of its
population—more than 144 million—have
forced people to cultivate steep slopes,
causing widespread erosion. Poor upland
management has resulted in damaged irri-
gation systems brought about by flash
floods and siltation. Aggravating the prob-
lem is the country's heavy rains—more
than 70 inches a year. (In one city, Bogor,
there are thunderstorms some 300 days a
year.) When the torrential rains hit ex-
posed farmland on hillsides, the runoff of
fertile soil becomes a serious problem.
Aid to Other Lands

EPA also has furnished advice and tech-
nical assistance on environmental matters
to a number of other countries. Last Decem-
ber, for example, James J. Boland, Pesti-
cide Incident Monitoring System Coordina-
tor in the Office of  Pesticides and Toxic
Substances,  visited Jordan as part of a
three-man team of specialists to help that
country develop a system of pesticide man-
agement. The Jordan Valley since Biblical
times has been noted for its fertile, produc-
tive soil, and the intense development of
farmlands there in modern times has
brought with it the need to control the
problems of pesticide handling and use,
Boland explained. His trip also was under
AID auspices.
  F. Allen (Tex) Harris, Director of the
EPA Office of International Activities, and
Richard Dewling, Deputy Administrator of
Region 2, last August visited Nigeria under
auspices  of the international Communica-
tions Agency to make a general survey of
environmental problems there. EPA also
has furnished technical information to a
number of other countries and localities
including Singapore, the Philippines, and
  Carter  said he is continuing to discuss
with Indonesian authorities strategies for
solving their environmental problems, par-
ticularly in urban areas where the need to
preserve clean water in the face of acclerat-
ing population pressure is especially
acute. D

Truman Temple is Associate Editor of
EPA Journal.
 APRIL 1981

Around the  Nation
Region 1 recently spon-
sored an exposition
entitled "Working
Together to Bridge the
Gap," focusing on the
need to include minority
and women-owned busi-
nesses in EPA's construc-
tion grants program for
wastewater treatment
facilities. The exposition
was held in Providence,
R.I., and was attended by
about 1,000 people.
  Over 100 minority and
women-owned business
enterprises including pub-
lic relations agencies,
equipment teasing and
rental,  graphic design,
legal services, trucking,
construction contractors
and manufacturers as
well as architects and
engineers provided ex-
hibits and displays.
   Region 1 also recently
sponsored a public meet-
ing to solicit comment on
its draft 1990 construc-
tion grants  strategy. The
strategy is designed for
the remaining clean water
needs, goalsfor 1990,
and what changes need to
be made in the construc-
tion grants  program in
the 1980's to meet those
EPA Region 2 intends to
publish in late April an
environmental impact
statement on the Upper
Passaic River Basin 201
Facilities Pian in New
Jersey. A major issue to
be addressed in the state-
ment is the impact on the
Great Swamp National
Wildlife Refuge of the
flows from two sewage
treatment plants slated
for upgrading and expan-
sion. The major environ-
mental problem facing
the Refuge is non-point
source pollution from
nearby developments.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service reports indicate
that uncontrolled devel-
opment of headwater
streams leading to the
Great Swamp is turning
the Refuge into a sink
for sediments, fertilizers,
and other pollutants.
   Preservation  of the
Great Swamp is a vital
necessity for the tens of
thousands who depend on
the area as a recharge
zone for pure drinking
water, Region 2 officials
said. Even more communi-
ties situated in the Passaic
River Basin rely on the
Refuge to draw  off flood
water during heavy rain-
   At present several Fed-
erally-administered pro-
grams provide for land
use constraints that will
help resolve the runoff and
flooding problems in the
Refuge. In addition, as
part of the environmental
impact statement process,
EPA intends to use new
Federal discharge permit
regulations and designate
the Great Swamp water-
shed a General Permit
Program area, subject to
conditions governing the
FMC Corporation has
agreed to pay S1 million
into an environmental
trust fund in order to
settle a Federal suit charg-
ing the company and two
of its employees with con-
spiracy, withholding in-
formation, and obstruc-
tion of Agency proceed-
ings. These charges
stemmed from EPA Re-
gion 3's investigation of
the discharges of carbon
tetrachloride into the
Kanawha River from
FMC's South Charleston,
W. Va. plant in  1977.
   FMC pleaded guilty to
the withholding informa-
tion and obstruction
charges. In exchange for
the withdrawal of all
charges against the indi-
vidual employees and the
conspiracy charge against
the company, FMC also
agreed to pay the maxi-
mum fine of $35,000 and
to pay the $1 million into
the trust fund.
   The agreement speci-
fies that the money will
be used on projects re-
lated to water quality or
the effect of water pol-
lution on human health.
Whenever possible, pref-
erence will be given to
projects which benefit
individuals or the environ-
ment of the Kanawha and
Ohio River valleys.

Coal Study
   Region 3 recently com-
pleted an environmental
assessment on the impact
of coal mining in West
Virginia, aimed at reduc-
ing the time and cost for
obtaining most new min-
ing permits by high-
lighting environmental
concerns early in the
planning stages.
   The assessment covers
the impact of coal mining
on all aspects of the en-
vironment such as fish,
erosion, sedimentation
and wildlife, as well as
water quality. Prior to
the study,  it could take
up to one year for a coal
company to receive a Na-
tional Pollution Discharge
Elimination System permit
for discharge into water-
ways. Now, because of
this statewide study and
other cooperative agree-
ments with the West Vir-
ginia Department of Nat-
ural Resources, EPA will
be able to process nearly
85 percent of the coal
mining permits within one
month of receipt of their
   Regional Office person-
nel are reviewing a draft
environmental impact
statement prepared on a
proposed Tennessee Val-
ley Authority facility in
Guntersville, Ala. Natural  -
gas and other chemical
feedstocks would turn  *
20,000 tons of coal a day-
into synthetic gas equiv-
alent to 50,000 barrels of
imported oil.
Region 4 officials are pres-
ently studying the poten-
tial impacts on air quality
of proposed synthetic
fuel installations on Ten
nessee and Alabama.
   A Koppers Company
and Cities Service facility
in Oak Ridge, Tenn.,
would burn 29,000 tons
of high sulfur coa! a day
to produce 50,000 barrels
of gasoline. The coal
would be mined in eastern
Tennessee. Region 4 staff
and the State are helping
the companies prepare
Prevention of Significant
Deterioration (PSD) ap-
   A synfuel plant planned
for Memphis would con-
vert 3,000 tons of high
sulphur coal into 1 50 mil-
lion cubic feet of gas. A
draft  environmental  im-
pact statement and PSD
application are under
Region 5, in cooperation
with the Illinois EPA, has
awarded a $50,000 grant
to the Illinois State Cham-
ber of Commerce for the
establishment of an infor-
mation clearinghouse to
promote among Illinois in-
dustries a better under-
standing of the Clean Air
Act requirements and to
encourage innovative,
cost effective ways to
come into compliance
with existing air quality
  Through technical, fi-
nancial, brokering, and
informational assistance,
the clearinghouse hopes
to be able to help indus-
tries take advantage of
options available to them
in meeting clean air stand-
ards, as outlined in the
1982 Illinois State Imple-
mentation Pian for clean
air. Those options, gen-
erally known as controlled
trading, include the "bub-
ble" concept, emission
offsets, and emission off-
set banking and trading.
They were designed as
part of EPA's regulatory
reform efforts and were
meant to give industries
a bigger say in  how and
where within a plant or
a series of plants shall air
emissions be controlled.

     Illinois industries in-
  terested in further infor-
  mation or participating
  in the clearinghouse pro-
  gram are invited to con-
 'tactthe Illinois State
 .. Chamber of Commerce,
'. zp N. Wacker Drive, Chi-
  cago, III. 60606; (312)
  PCB Incineration
  EPA Region 6 recently ap-
  proved the Rollins Envi-
  ronmental Services of
  Deer Park, Texas, and
  Energy Systems Company
  of El Dorado, Ark., as the
  first two commercial
  chemical waste inciner-
  ators.for destruction of
  polychloridated biphenyls
    EPA considers incin-
  eration of PCB's at ex-
  tremely high temperatures
  to be the only acceptable
  method of disposal for
  liquids containing 500 or
  more parts-per-million of
    Test burns at both sites
  showed that the equip-
  ment destroyed more than
  99.9999  percent of the
  PCB's, and health studies
  showed that, under worst
  case conditions, over a
  70-year period, the chance
  of cancer following the
  Rollins test would be less
  than one in 50,000, and
  less than one in 2.5 mil-
  lion in Arkansas.
     Region 6 was assisted
  in the testing and analysis
  by EPA's Oftice of Pesti-
 ^cides and Toxic Substan-
•. ces, Headquarters; Office
- of Research and Develop-
  ment at Triangle Park,
 »N.C., and Wright State
  University, Dayton, Ohio.
EPA Action
Region 7 recently filed a
complaint seeking a fine
of $19,000 against Na-
tional Industrial Environ-
mental Services, Inc. of
Wichita, Kan., for alleged
mishandling of polychlor-
inated biphenyis or PCB's.
   The charges resulted
from an EPA inspection of
the facility in which an
electrical transformer con-
taining PCB-contaminated
cooling liquid was dis-
covered in a storage space
without a roof or walls.
This transformer and two
large high voltage PCB
capacitors stored in a
vault within a PCB storage
area were found not prop-
erly marked. The EPA in-
spection also revealed
that the company had
failed to prepare and
maintain records on PCB
storage and disposal as
required by Federal reg-

Test Burn
Union Electric, a St.
Louis, Missouri-based
utility company, recently
test burned 100,000 gal-
lons of PCB-contaminated
mineral oil dielectric fluid
at the utility's Labadie
Power Plant in Labadie,
Mo. The burn was the
first of its kind in Region 7.
   EPA  technicians were
on hand to monitor the
test burn and take samples
during and after the incin-
eration  process. The anal-
ysis of those  samples
showed no detectable lev-
els of PCB's.
   EPA is awaiting results
of stack gas samples
taken by a consultant firm
contracted by Union Elec-
tric. If those samples
show no detectable
amount of PCB's, the La-
badie facility will be given
the go-ahead for future in-
cineration of the utility's
PCB-contaminated waste
Air Quality
Region 8 recently
awarded a $43,981 grant
to Montana's Assiniboine-
Sioux Indian Tribes which
will enable them to con-
tinue working on an air
pollution control program
on the Fort Peck Reser-
  Thesefunds will help
make it possible for the
tribes to continue monitor-
ing air quality on the Res-
ervation. Emphasis is
being placed on collecting
information on particu-
lates, ozone, and sulfur
dioxide. Additionally,  the
tribes will continue devel-
opingair pollution control
regulations for reserva-
  Energy development
has raised concerns
among the tribes, who
cite the possible degrada-
tion of the relatively clean
air on or near Fort Peck.
Last year the tribe issued
formal notices of intent
to seek Federal reclassifi-
cation of the reservation
to Class I undera special
provision of the Clean  Air
  While conducting an
inspection of the Capri
facility, EPA inspectors
found violations of Fed-
eral interim status stand-
ards applicable to hazard-
ous waste treatment and
storage facilities under
the Resource Conserva-
tion and Recovery Act.
  The order requires that
Capri comply with all Fed-
eral interim requirements
before treating any waste
or accepting new waste
and that it post a perform-
ance bond to ensure that
the facility is properly
closed and decontami-
nated after operation. In
addition, EPA assessed
a penalty of  $46,000
against Capri and Car-
rasco for the violations.
 Compliance Order
 Region 9 recently issued
 a compliance order to
 Capri Pumping Service
 of Los Angeles, Calif., and
 its owner, Refugio Car-
 rasco, for violations of
 Federal hazardous waste
 program requirements.
 Court Order
 A large chemical proces-
 sing facility near down-
 town Seattle which stores
 hazardous waste has been
 ordered by a U.S. Dis-
 trict Court judge to keep
 conditions at the site from
 returning to the situation
 of last summer when the
 Seattle Fire Department
 discovered serious fire
 and explosion hazards.
 The judge's order drew
 this comment from Region
 10 Administrator Donald
 Dubois: "If the company
 (Chemical Processors,
 Inc.) complies with the
 injunction and the fire pre-
 cautions required by the
 City of Seattle, conditions
 at the facility will never
 again reach the dangerous
 situation discovered by
 the Seattle Fire Depart-
 ment. Even before the
 judge's action, steps
 taken by Region 10 had
 led to substantial im-
 provement at the site. The
 current situation at Chem-
                                                                            ical Processors is far from
                                                                            being the threat it was last
                                                                            August. Now, with the in-
                                                                            junction,  the Govern-
                                                                            ment's efforts to seek
                                                                            continued improvement
                                                                            have the force of a court
                                                                            order." D
States Served by EPA Regions

Region 1 (Boston)
Connecticu! M,i-
Mas--.        '.-w
Hampshire. Rhode Island.

617 2237210

Region 2 (New York
NfiwJ.        rork.

212264 2525

Region 3

    ••97 9814

Region 4 {Atlanta)

North Carolina. South


Region 5 (Chicago)

Michigan, Wisco:
Region 6 (Dallas)

214 767 2600

Region 7 (Kansas
Iowa. K


Region 8 (Denver)
Colorado I
Wyoming. '

.103 B:

Region 9 (Sort

Region 10 (Seattle)

    APRIL 1981

Encroachment by housing developments on farmland, such as this threatened California artichoke farm in foreground, has stirred concern
By Truman Temple
   The long-awaited National Agricultural
   Lands Study, warning that much prime
farmland is being taken out of production
by housing developments, highways, Fed-
eral projects and other uses, has called for
a series of measures to preserve this rich
resource for future generations.
  Among other things the report called
upon the Federal government to put its own
house in order. It urged agencies to stop
promoting or financing projects that gobble
up good agricultural land and instead to
encourage construction on other types of
  "The United States has been converting
agricultural land to non-agricultural uses at
the rate of about three million acres per
year—of which about one million acres is
from the cropland base," the study noted.
"This land has been paved over, built on, or
permanently flooded, i.e., converted to
non-agricultural uses. For practical pur-
poses, the loss of this resource to U.S.
agriculture is irreversible."
  The report pointed outthat of 37 Federal
agencies it reviewed, only two—the Envi-

ver vanishing cropland.
    ronmental Protection Agency and the U.S.
    Department of Agriculture—have explicit
    pol icies to consider the effect of their pro-
    grams on agricultural land. Noting that en-
    vironmental impact statements by agencies
    seldom assess the cumulative adverse
    effects that a series of programs have on
    prime farmland, it called upon the govern-
    ment to create other tools by which the
    impact of Federal projects on good crop
    soil can be controlled.
   Government decisions, the study de-
clared, also "have a powerful indirect effect
by spurring the conversion of agricultural
land. This may depend on where a highway
is built, where the interchange is located,
where a sewer line goes, whether govern-
ment financing is available for housing or a
subdivision, or whether government pro-
grams lead to new job opportunities in a
rural area."
   One of the major reasons why officials
view the loss of rich farmland with concern
is the major and growing contribution that
America's farm exports have on our inter-
national balance of payments. In 1979 U.S.
agricultural exports exceeded $40 billion,
some $8 billion higher than the previous
year and more than $18 billion above the
level five years earlier. The sales, con-
stituting nearly a fifth of the value of all
U.S. exports, now go a long way toward off-
setting outlays for foreign oil, and the
future market for our food and fiber is ex-
pected to expand sharply. The study pro-
jects that foreign demand for U.S. farm
products will nearly double by the year
2000 as global population increases.
  A dozen Federal agencies  including EPA
participated in the 18-month study, which
was initiated by the Department of Agricul-
ture and the President's Council on Envi-
ronmental Quality. Robert Gray, executive
director of the study, noted that in addition
to the Federal agencies, 50 public interest
groups were involved including a cross-
section of farm and business organizations.
Nearly a score of workshops  were held by
staff members with community and area
leaders across the Nation last year in their
efforts to give local interests a voice in the
whole question of future farmland
  At a press conference announcing the
study results last January, CEQ officials
warned that if the farmland losses con-
tinued unchecked for the next two decades,
it would result in "unacceptable inflation,"
with !and so expensive that farmers could
not pay for it out of earnings. They also
predicted that bringing marginal land into
production would result in increased
  According to the study the United States
now has about 41 3 million acres in crops
with another 127 million acres of potential
farmland. However, if present trends con-
tinue for the next two decades, the Nation
will have to cultivate an additional 140
million acres to meet domestic and foreign
demands. The  report said this will mean
large-scale shifts of forage land into crops,
with less land available for livestock
grazing. That in turn will mean more "con-
finement feeding," that is, trucking grain to
feedtots where cattle are penned in, a prac-
tice that promises to raise the cost of meat
production, the study suggested.
   Among its recommendations to head off
 the loss of good farmland, the study said
 State governments should take an active
 role in protecting such terrain, setting up
 programs before developers foreclose local
 options. It emphasized the "primacy" of
 State and local governments in this problem
 and did not attempt to spell out what kind
 of tax or zoning approaches should be used
 to preserve farmland.
   At the Federal level, the study urged that
 the national interest in agricultural land
 should be articulated either by a Presiden-
 tial or a Congressional statement of policy.
 An Executive Order or Congressional action
 should require each Federal agency to
 adopt a policy of considering adverse
 effects when its programs result in con-
 verting good farmland to other uses, the
 report declared. Such policies should be
 monitored by an interagency group, it
   Noting that less than 20 million acres of
 farmland in the U.S. are protected under
 comprehensive State or local land-use
 policies, the report urged Federal assist-
 ance to States and localities that want to
 create land-protection systems.
   "The Federal government should not
 finance or subsidize development projects
 that occur on good agricultural land," the
 study said. In addition to requiring appli-
 cants for financial aid, where farmland
 conversion is involved, to demonstrate
 there are no other practical sites available,
 the Federal government should provide
 lower interest loans to attract development
 away from prime farmland and onto sites
 less desirable for crops, it added. Preferen-
 tial interest rates would apply to current
 Federal loans and grants for housing and
 industrial development, loan guarantees,
 home mortgage assistance, and services
 such as water, sewers, and electrification.
   The study also urged improved technical
 assistance and data to aid in  better protec-
 tion of farmlands.
   Former Agriculture Secretary Bob
 Bergland said at the press conference that
 he planned to discuss the study with John
 R. Block, his successor-
   Officials said the land study was com-
 pleted at a total cost exceeding $2 million.
 Other agencies participating, in addition to
 EPA and Agriculture, were the Departments
 of Commerce, Defense, Energy, Interior.
 State, Transportation, Treasury, Housing
 and Urban Development, and the Water
 Resources Council. Q

 Truman Temple is Associate  Editor of
EPA Journal.
    APRIL 1981


 and  Energy
 By William Duffer and
 Jane  Kellogg
    Speeding through Japan, the
      electrical train called the
 "Bullet Express" moves along
 at 1 50 miles per hour, carrying
 passengers between Tokyo and
 Kyoto. Gazing out the window
 at rice paddy after rice paddy, a
 visitor might find it hard to un-
 derstand why  the Japanese
 Ministry of Agriculture and
 Fisheries is considering the
 conversion of  many of these
 rice paddies into large areas for
 the purpose of culturing the
 water hyacinth.
   But this lowly weed is be-
 ginning to  receive attention as a
 possible source of animal feed,
 mulching material, soil addi-
 tive, and a  source of energy. It
 also may help  remove pollutants
 from wastewater. The plant,
 originally brought to Japan as
 an ornamental in the 1 890's,
 quickly fell into disfavor in that
 era because it invaded and
 often clogged  a variety of water
 systems such  as ponds and irri-
 gation channels. These waters
 provided a perfect habitat for
 the hyacinth, which prefers
 water with low clarity, poor
 movement, and which is en-
 riched by waste products from
 agricultural fields, residences,
 or industries. The very reason
 that the hyacinth flourishes  in
 an environment undesirable for
 plants has  prompted studies by
 scientists of its ability to
 cleanse polluted waters.
   Recognizing the need for
 methods such as aquaculture
 for treating the waste streams

gushing out of factories and
cities in this highly industrial-
ized, heavily populated island,
Japanese officials began to look
for the latest information avail-
able. Since abundant research
was being produced in the
United States  on aquaculture,
they sought information from
the Environmental Protection
Agency, among other agencies.
Ada Lab's Role

Workshops, seminars, and in-
formal sessions were arranged
by EPA for Japanese scientists
and government officials includ-
ing members oi the Japanese
Ministries for International
Trade and Industry and of Agri-
culture and Fisheries. Dr.
William Duffer  of the Robert S.
Kerr Environmental Research
Laboratory, because of his work
in aquaculture,  was able to
share information in the United
States concerning aquaculture
and the water hyacinth.
   This research has shown  that
the water hyacinth has the
ability to clean  a variety  of
wastestreams.  One water hya-
cinth wastewater treatment
system in operation at Disney
World in Orlando, Fla., for
example,  has demonstrated an
effectiveness equal to that pro-
vided by conventional second-
ary treatment systems<
   Water hyacinth systems cost
considerably less to build and
operate than the more tradi-
tional concrete  and steel waste-
water treatment facility. For a
conventional system with a
treatment capability of one
million gallons  per day, for ex-
ample, construction costs
would be approximately $1.6
million, while a water hyacinth
system capable of treating the
same volume would cost ap-
proximately $830,000. In com-
paring operational costs, a
significant energy savings is
also possible through the use of
the water hyacinth system. A
conventional system will use
nearly 7.5 bill ion British thermal
units per year compared to less
than 3.5 billion per year for the
water hyacinth system.* This
is before taking into considera-
tion the energy savings also
possible from the production of
biomass by the hyacinths.
Studies by 15 Cities

This'treatment effectiveness
coupled with the potential for
cost and energy savings has
prompted at least 1 5 muni-
cipalities to consider seriously
the installation of water hya-
cinth wastewater treatment
systems. In San Diego, scien-
tists and engineers are currently
in the process of designing such
a system, in combination with
other treatment components,
for the cleaning of municipal
  Studies currently underway
at the National Aeronautics  and
Space Administration labora-
tory in Mississippi have also
shown promising results in the
ability of the water hyacinth to
treat chemical wastewaters.
This system receives discharges
from photographic and chemi-
cal  laboratories and is able to
produce an effluent which meets
discharge standards.
  Japan, like  many other coun-
tries, has a limited amount of
available water, and as such is'
looking at ways of reusing and
recycling all wastewaters. At
the present time, a variety of
industries  have successfully
developed reuse or recycle
techniques. These include the
textile industry, steel and paper
mills, and tin-nickel plating
operations. In  the future, these
industries  may be using aqua-
culture to help treat their waste-
waters while reducing their
costs of operation.
Fast-Growing Weed

With an active growth period of
seven to 10 months per year in
tropical and semitropicai re-
gions around the world, the
water hyacinth quickly reaches
a height of from 1 6 to 40
inches. During the growing
season, this weed is capable of
absorbing pesticides, heavy
metals, nutrients, and organic
contaminants. To achieve maxi-
mum removal of nutrients,
plants must be in an active
period of growth. With frequent
harvesting, it is possible to pro-
duce 70 dry tons of biomass
per year per acre.
   The biomass can be proc-
essed into animal feed, mulch-
ing material and soil supple-
ments,  or can  be converted
through a fermentation process
into methane gas. The signifi-
cance of the latter is that the
gas can be burned like natural
gas as an energy source. For a
nation such as Japan that pro-
duces only one percent of its
energy  needs, this methane
could be a significant bonus.
   Conversion of rice paddies
to the production of the water
hyacinth may  enable Japan to
gain a more economical, less
energy-intensive method of
treatment for wastewater as
well as an added capability of
producing methane gas, an
alternative energy source.
   In the United States today,
gasohol, a fuel which  is pro-
duced through a fermentation
process from crops such as corn
and wheat, is  readily available.
In the near future, methane gas
produced from the water  hya-
cinth plant may be just as
   Using green plants to trap
solar energy in living cells while
cleansing wastewater, and then
extracting that solar energy in
the form of methane gas,
sounds like a  science fiction
story. But, as  we increasingly
look for answers to our pollu-
tion and energy problems, as
well as new sources of food for
ourselves and the animals that
feed us, some innovative solu-
tions are being found. D

William Duffer is a research
aquatic biologist and Jane
Kellogg is a writer/editor at
EPA's Robert  S. Kerr Environ-
mental Research Laboratory in
Ada, Oklahoma.
                                 "A British thermal unit is the
                              heat required to raise a pound of
                              water one degree F.
 APRIL 1981

 A review of recent major
 EPA activities and devel-
 opments in the pollution
 control program areas.

 Clean Coal
A report published re-
cently by EPA has
confirmed that cleaning
coal before burning it can
help reduce its sulfur c<5n-
tent, thereby reducing the
amount of sulfur oxide
pollution emitted by coal-
fired power plants.
   The report, entitled
"Cost Benefits Associated
with the Use of Physically
Cleaned Coal," was com-
 piled for EPA by  PEDCo
 Environmental, Inc. of
 Dallas, Texas.
   Copies of the report can
be obtained by writing
ORD  Publications, Center
for Environmental
Research Information,
USEPA, Cincinnati, Ohio
45268: refer to publica-
tion number EPA-600/7-

Vehicle Survey
EPA recently released
its 1979 Motor Vehicle
Tampering Survey which
shows an 18 percent rate
of tampering with the
emission control equip-
ment of the country's
1973 through 1979 model
automobiles. This number
is essentially the same as
the 19 percent tampering
rate found in EPA's 1978
   The report also exam-
ined the extent of fuel
switching, which is the
use of leaded gas in
vehicles requiring un-
leaded gas. It found that
nine percent of the cars
had been subjected to fuel
switching, a result close
to other EPA estimates.
   The tampering included
disabled exhaust gas
recirculation systems,
removed catalysts, altered
filler neck inlets to permit
the use of leaded gas in
cars requiring unleaded
gas, and disabled vacuum
spark retard. Only eight
percent of foreign cars
inspected showed evi-
dence of tampering as
compared to 20 percent
of domestic vehicles. And
older cars showed higher
rates of tampering than
vehicles only a year or
two old.
  The 1979 survey was
based on checking about
2,500 cars in eight States:
Arizona, Delaware,
Minnesota, New Jersey,
Tennessee, Texas,
Virginia, and Vermont.

FueS Violations
EPA recently filed
administrative complaints
against five Maryland
gasoline retailers and four
refiners for violations of
fuel regulations of the
Federal Clean Air Act.
  The retailers, who were
cited for selling contami-
nated unleaded gasoline,
and the amount of
assessed penalties are:
Bay Oil, Inc., Havre de
Grace, Md.—$6,000:
Dale's Sunoco Service,
Bethesda, Md.—$2,000;
Foerster's Getty, Balti-
more, Md.—$500, and
Lansdowne Shell Station,
Lansdowne, Md.—
$1,000. The refiners cited
and the penalties as-
sessed are: Sunoco—
$7,000, Chevron—
$7,000, Getty—$6,000,
and Shell—$6,000.
   The fifth retailer,  Belair
Mobile of Bowie, Md.,
was cited for allegedly
having an improper nozzle
on a leaded gas pump
which allowed the nozzle
to fit through the filler
inlet restrictors on
vehicles requiring un-
leaded fuel and was
assessed a penalty of

EPA recently announced
a reproposal of stand-
ards for permits for ex-
isting hazardous waste
facilities in which wastes
are placed permanently in
the ground. These facili-
ties include landfills, land
treatmenf facilities, and
surface impoundments
and underground injection
and seepage facilities.
Following public com-
ments, these standards
are subject to review be-
fore a final decision is
made. The reproposed
standards were issued
under a court-ordered
  The Agency also issued
interim final regulations
which will allow permits
of urgently needed new
facilities until the re-
proposed standards are*
finalized, and set stand- •
ardsfor incinerators
which treat hazardous  »  •

The EPA recently an-
nounced it has decided to
allow the continued use
of the insecticide dime-
thoate on the condition
that farm workers and
home gardeners wear
protective clothing while
mixing and applying it.
   The decision ends a
two-year investigation
into the benefits and risks
of dimethoate to deter-
mine whether it should be
allowed to be used, used
under restrictions, or
                                                                                 EPA JOURNAL

     Dimethoate is used on
  crops such as corn, sor-
  ghum, wheat, safflower,
  soybeans, cotton, tobacco,
  alfalfa, fruits and nuts.
  Vegetables, and for other
  purposes. Home gar-
 t deners use it on ornamen-
  'taTplants and trees. The
\ insecticide was being
  investigated because it
"^w*s shown to cause birth
  defects in animals, and
  there was evidence that it
  could cause tumors and
  genetic damage in ani-

  The EPA's Environmental
  Radiation Monitoring
  System has revealed that
  trace amounts of fission
  products were present in
  air particulate samples
  taken from the cities of
  Los Angeles and Berkeley,
  Calif.; Santa Fe, N. Mex.;
  and Las Vegas, Nev., re-
  cently. The samples
  collected show the pres-
  ence of barium-140 which
  has a relatively short
  radioactive half-life. How-
  ever, the quantities
  measured are so small
  that the Agency con-
  cluded that they are prob-
  ably the last traces of
  fallout from China's
  nuclear detonation on
  October 16, 1980.
     The Department of
  Energy also informed EPA
  that facilities under its
  jurisdiction in Iowa and
  Tennessee reported de-
  tecting trace amounts
which are probably due to
the Chinese test.
   EPA says that the levels
recently measured are
lower than those meas-
ured last fall, and that
neither level is high
enough to pose any signif-
icant health hazard to
the public.

Joint Effort
EPA recently announced
a major Agency effort to
promote joint research by
industries into new ways
to reduce pollution.
  The Agency will begin
working closely with a
number of major business
organizations to inform
the Nation's industries
about guidelines from the
Justice Department that
clarify possible antitrust
aspects of joint industrial
research efforts. EPA
believes that uncertainties
about the antitrust impli-
cations of such joint
research have discour-
aged industries from
entering cooperation
projects that potentially
could find needed an-
swers to tough pollution
control questions. And
the Agency feels that such
research is vital to the
effectiveness of future
pollution control efforts.
   The Justice Depart-
ment guidelines will be
distributed by the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce,
the Environmental Indus-
try Council, the National
Environmental Develop-
ment Association, the
National Federation of
Independent Business-
men, the National Asso-
ciation of Manufacturers,
and other major trade
groups.  In  addition to
their memberships,
broader distribution of
the guidelines will be
attained through special
EPA  mailings.

Air Quality
The EPA has awarded a
$555,764  contract to the
Rockwell International
Corporation of Newbury
Park, Calif., to collect and
monitor air quality data
in seven U.S. cities in
support of the Agency's
epidemiology research,
a branch of medical
science  that deals with the
incidence, distribution
and control of disease  in
a population.
   The project is to last
throtigh mid-1981. The
seven cities involved are:
Granite City, III.; Bakers-
field, Calif.; Tampa, Fla.;
Cleveland, Ohio; River-
side, Calif.; Owensboro,
Ky., and Houston, Texas.
   These cities were
selected by the type and
amount of certain popula-
tion concentrations indi-
cated in previous studies
and the predicted amount
of growth levels in certain
gases and particulate
emissions due to new
industries scheduled to
open in some of the cities.
   Air samples will be
collected from three
different locations in each
city and each site will be
monitored continuously
for two months.
Asbestos Use
The EPA has proposed a
new program to collect
needed information on
how asbestos, a cancer-
causing substance, is
used in the United States.
   A "profile" on asbestos
use and exposure will be
assembled from data to
be submitted by indus-
tries producing asbestos
or asbestos-containing
products. By giving a
comprehensive picture of
the life cycle of asbestos
fibers from mining and
milling through product
manufacturing, use and
disposal, EPA will be
provided with sufficient
data to decide whether
controls on usage are
   EPA proposed the rule
under authority of Sec-
tion 8(a) of the Toxic
Substances Control Act,
which gives the Agency
the authority to collect
information on existing
chemicals;  it can also
restrict their production
or use, if warranted.
The EPA recently pro-
posed revising and
clarifying its policies and
procedures related to
construction businesses
owned by minority-owned
architectural, engineer-
ing, consulting, and con-
struction firms in the
construction of EPA-
funded sewage treatment
  The proposed revisions
consist mainly of clarifi-
cations to the existing
requirements and would
not affect the basic pur-
pose of the policies. Q
     APRIL 1981

                                          Ar»ril  1QQ1
a Train
    The Washington-bound com-
    muter train whistled and its
headlight cut a swath through
a dawn rain shower as it
rounded a curve and headed for
the ancient cobweb-festooned
railroad station at Harpers
Ferry, W.Va.
   As the train approached the
waiting passengers huddled
under umbrellas on the plat-
form, a mourning dove which
had been  feeding near the tracks
flew up with a sudden whir of
its long pointed wings.
   While the passengers
boarded the train, a gust of
wind lashed them with rain and
a flash of lightning glinted off
the windows of the pastel-
painted hillside houses of his-
toric Harpers Ferry, a town of
500 people nestled in the
shadow of the Blue Ridge
   The train lurched forward
and began approaching the
bridge where the rain-swollen
Potomac swirled below to meet
the Shenandoah River.
   The passengers could see
through the rain-streaked win-
dows the famous confluence
where these two great rivers
burst through a gap in the Blue
Ridge Mountains and descend
toward Washington.
  This is the scene Thomas
Jefferson described as being so
spectacular that it was worth
making a trip across the Atlantic
Ocean to see it.
  After crossing the  river the
train rides over the last section
of bridge above a rain-soaked
C&O Canal and then  enters a
tunnel through the Blue Ridge
Mountains.  When it emerges,
the storm has abruptly ended
and under a brightening sun the
train runs parallel to the canal
and the Potomac on the way to
the old railroad town  of Bruns-
wick, Md.
  An alert passenger may be
fortunate enough at this time of
year to see a yellow form flitting
in the trees. Was it a  goldfinch
or the prothonotary warbler, the
golden bird  with blue-grev
wings which figured so promi-
nently in the Alger Hiss trial?
  The train moves on before
the question can be answered
to the gingerbread-style station
at Point of Rocks, Md. Here
part-time farmers have plowed
up small plots for vegetable
gardens. !n the early  morning
hours robins are checking out
the freshly turned earth for
worms. When the train stops, a
rooster can be heard  crowing in
the distance and sparrows
twitter from a large sycamore
tree near the station.
  As the journey continues, a
crimson flame becomes notice-
able in the trees  lining the rail-
road tracks. The new leaves of
the red maple light up Spring as
the dying leaves of these trees
will brighten Autumn.
   The train rumbles by green-
ing farm fields and approaches
the Monocacy River, where a
towering smoke stack from the
Potomac Electric Power Co.
plant at Dickerson, Md.,
reaches into the sky.
   Nearing the next stop, Gaith-
ersburg, the train passes a
series of fairground sheds
where cattle and sheep are dis-
played. Shopping centers and
housing subdivisions rise from
newly converted farm fields and
are often surrounded by cud-
chewing cows who manage to
keep their placid demeanor de-
spite the signs of growth.
   At Rockville, the next stop,
the golden blossoms of for-
sythia brighten many yards.
Between Rockville and Silver
Spring the train crosses the
traffic-clogged  Beltway.
   At Silver Spring, a flock of
pigeons burst into the air as
the train arrives and wing by a
huge poster of a little girl crying
and saying, "Daddy, you're not
sober, please pull over," an
advertisement sponsored by
the Maryland New Car Dealers
   Finally the train inches
across the spaghetti of railroad
tracks at Washington and draws
to a stop near Union Station.
   In front of the station the
flags of the U.S. and the States
are flapping furiously in a brisk
breeze. At the Capitol a few
blocks from the station gulls
are wheeling above the reflect-
ing pool.
   From the Capitol West Front-
the green Mall stretches ahead."
Streets crossing the Mall are .
swelling now with heavy vol-
umes of traffic as Washington
area residents awake and begin
another day.
   How many in this army of
workers realize that all the
splendor and power of one of
the world's great capitals is
utterly dependent for its exist-
ence upon simple natural sys-
tems such as an April  rain
replenishing the Potomac River?
   Do they recognize that while
Washington is a city of great
beauty, its real glory may be
based on its surrounding coun-
tryside—the rolling mountains,
the wild beauty of the  C&O
Canal and the other treasures
that can be observed in a com-
muter's train journey?
   Perhaps some of these assets
have no economic value, but, as
Aldo Leopold pointed  out long
ago in his classic work, "A
Sand County Almanac":
   "A system of conservation
based solely on economic self-
interest is hopelessly lopsided.
It tends to ignore, and  thus
eventually to eliminate, many
elements in the land community
that lack commercial value, but
that are (as far as we know)
essential to its healthy function-
ing. It assumes falsely, I think,
that the economic parts of the
biotic clock will function with-
out the uneconomic parts."—

                         News Briefs
Industry Awards
Block Urges
Five companies  and  two utilities were  honored recently for
outstanding  achievement in protecting  the  nation's environment.
The seven, winners  of the 1981 National  Environmental Industry
Awards,  are  Minnesota Power and Light  Co.,  Duluth Minn., for  air
pollution control;  Diamond Walnut Growers,  Inc.,  Stockton, Calif.,
for energy conservation; Goodyear Tire  and Rubber Co., Akron, Ohio,
for hazardous waste control; AMAX,  Inc., Greenwich, Conn., for
land reclamation;  Finch, Pruyn & Co.,  Inc.,  Glens Falls, N.Y.,
for solid waste management; Western  Lake Superior Sanitary District,
Duluth,  Minn.,  for  wastewater control;  and Hi 11 shire Farm Company,
New London,  Wis.,  for waste treatment.   The  awards, sponsored by
the White House Council on Environmental Quality  and the Environ-
mental  Industry Council, are in recognition  of management commitment,
sound economic  planning and engineering  excellence.  The winners
were chosen  by  an  independent panel  of  judges.

Secretary of Agriculture John R. Block  has called for a national
land use policy that stops urban development of some of the country's
richest  farmlands.   "In the next 20  years  we cannot realize a 60 to
85 per  cent  increase in demand for  U.S.  agricultural products while
urbanizing three million acres of productive land each year and
maintaining  current low productivity rates," said Block in a  recent
speech  at the National Agricultural  Lands  Conference in Chicago.
He endorsed  findings of t!.-> National Agricultural Lands Study which
warned  that  the U.S. faces a land crisis in  the next decade unless
policy  changes  stop development sprawl  over  productive croplands.

Block said the  conversion of agricultural  lands is a potential
crisis  in a  number  of ways:  "To meet  the  projected demands for the
next 20  years,  most of this nation's 540 million-acre cropland base
would have to be in cultivation.  This  would mean major shifts in
the U.S. agricultural system:  taking  land away from forage and
grazing  uses, farming poor quality  land  that is costly to cultivate
and subject  to'  erosion and environmental problems, and resulting in
higher  food  prices."
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 APRIL 1981

Eroding the Base of Civilization
   In dryland wheat producing areas, pres-
sures to reduce the area in fallow can also
sap the soil of moisture, as happened in the
U.S. Great Plains during the Dust-Bowl
years and in the Soviet Virgin Lands during
the 1960's. Except where land can be irri-
gated, the natural constraints on cultivation
under low-rainfall conditions cannot be
altered substantially.
   Where fallowing and other restitutional
agricultural practices have fallen by the
way, compensatory measures can go only
so far. In the Soviet Union, attempts to
regain food self-sufficiency by investing
heavily in agriculture are stymied because
soils have lost some of their inherent pro-
ductivity. Measuring the degradation of
croplands in terms of gully formation, soil
scientists at the Soil Erosion Laboratory at
Moscow University have found that while
only 2 percent of the south central Soviet
Union shows severe gullying, as much as
50 percent of the land could follow suit as
efforts to intensify agriculture proceed. A
parallel Soviet study of the present gully
network in the Steppe and Forest Steppe
regions in the European USSR found that
gully formation has accelerated as "good
land reserves became exhausted and slop-
ing land began to be plowed." In an
analysis of  Moscow's agricultural  plans,
Harvard's Thane Gustafson observes that
the Soviet Government must now reckon
with "50 years of neglect [that] have left
a legacy of  badly damaged soils."
   Even while soil erosion raises the
demand in the Soviet Union for food im-
ports, it reduces export capacity elsewhere.
For example, Australia is also experiencing
serious soil erosion as it responds to the
growing world demand for grain exports.
Canberra-based soil scientist C. L. Watson
reports that "some 50 percent of our exist-
ing agricultural and arid lands needs
ameliorative measures to just maintain
present productivity."
   Neighboring Indonesia is falling prey to
the same neglect. A report from the U.S.
embassy in Jakarta indicates that soil ero-
sion is bringing on an "ecological  emer-
gency" in Java, laying waste to land atan
alarming rate,  much faster than present
reclamation programs can restore it.
Similar pressures are bulding in Pakistan's
rainfed agricultural  regions. An AID  officer
in the Punjab area reports the annual
abandonment of several thousand hectares
of cropland because of severe erosion deg-
radation. In South Africa, biologist John
Hanks estimates that the province of Natal,
incorporating Kwazulu, is losing 200 mil-
lion tons of topsoil annually, the same
as is lost in Iowa.
   In Nepal, the country's rivers now an-
nually carry 240 million cubic meters of
soil to India, making that country the
recipient of what has been described as
Nepal's "most precious export." In Ethiopia,
according to U.S. AID  Mission reports,
"there is an environmental nightmare
unfolding  before our eyes. ... It is the
result of the acts of millions of Ethiopians
struggling for survival: sera '-hing the sur-
face of eroded land and eroding it further;
cutting down the trees for warmth and
fuel and leaving the country denuded. . .  .
Over one billion—one billion—tons of
topsoil flow from Ethiopia's highlands
each year."
   Far from complete, this litany of dis-
asters merely suggests the scope and
impact of  soil erosion. A 1 977 United
Nations survey reported that almost one-
fifth of the world's cropland is now being
steadily degraded.
   Determining precisely the extent to
which topsoil loss reduces cropland fertility
is fairly complicated since increasing fer-
tilizer use  can disguise declining natural
productivity. However, as Cornell's David
Pimentel has noted, three U.S. studies
show that other things being equal, corn
yields decline by an average of "four
bushels per acre for each inch of topsoi!
lost from a base of 12 inches of topsoil
or less."
   Underscoring the gravity of the erosion
threat is convincing evidence indicating
that adopting erosion-control  practices is
not cost-effective for the farmer. An in-
terdisciplinary team of agricultural
scientists studying land in southern
Iowa where erosion was excessive, calcul-
ated the projected near-term costs of ero-
sion in terms of additional energy use,
additional fertilizer use, and reduction in
yields. They found that the costs of reduc-
ing soil erosion to a tolerable level came to
three times the economic benefits of doing
so. In the absence of governmental cost-
sharing of erosion control practices, a typi-
cal farmer with a narrow profit margin and
with land  suffering from excessive erosion
would appear to have two choices: Adopt
the needed erosion control measures and
face bankruptcy in the relatively near term,
or continue with business as usual until
eventually the inherent productivity of the
land fell to the point where it would be
   The tough choice confronting Iowa's
farmers must be made the world over.
Differences in economic systems notwith-
standing,  the same basic pressures on the
land are at work everywhere.
 Spreading Deserts: The Human Hand

 In semiarid regions where human and live-
 stock populations are expanding at record
rates, deserts or desert-like conditions are
being created. According to reports pre-
pared for the U.N. Conference on Desertifi-
cation, some 630 million people, or one
person of every seven, live in arid or
semiarid areas. An estimated 78 million
people inhabit lands rendered useless by
erosion, dune formation, changes in vege-
tation, and salt encrustation. For this
group, desertification means the destruc-
tion of livelihood as well as land.
  Agronomists who specialize in manag-
ing arid and semiarid croplands have long
been aware of the mounting pressure on
fragile arid soils  and of their progressive
deterioration. It was not, however, until the
droughts of the late 1960's and early
1 970's in Sahelian Africa that the social
consequences of desertification—starva-
tion and dislocation—became painfully
   Fed by human abuses of the land—
overgrazing, deforestation, and overplow-
ing—the world's major deserts are all
growing larger. As human and livestock
populations increase, deserts or desert-like
conditions are spreading throughout the
Middle East and  in Iran, Afghanistan, and
northwestern India. Brazilian ecologist
J. Vasconceles Sobrinho reports that the
semiarid tip of Brazil's Northeast is being
desertified; similar conditions are develop-
ing in Argentinean states of La Rioja, San
Luis, and La Pampa.
The Loss of Irrigated Land

Irrigated lands, which provide a dispropor-
tionately large share of the world's food,
are also under seige. They are threatened
both by ecological forces—waterlogging
and salinity—and by economic forces that
divert water to competing uses. In addition,
some land is being irrigated by so-called
"fossil water"—water from  aquifers that
can't be recharged. On balance, the world's
irrigated acreage is still expanding since
the area" in new projects exceeds losses.
But in some locales, irrigated acreage  is
   As old as irrigation itself,  waterlogging
and salinity probably contributed to the
decline of some early  Middle Eastern
civilizations. But these proverbial problems
have modern-day solutions.  If the designers
of the earliest irrigation systems in the
Tigris-Euphrates Valley did not under-
stand the subterranean hydrology well
enough to prescribe corrective action,
modern irrigation engineers  do. Now the
problem is the cost: by recent U.N. esti-
mates, average salvage costs are S650
per hectare.
   Worldwide data compiled in a 1977
U.N. report  indicate that one-tenth of the

Wind-blown sand drifts up to six feet deep on a farm in South Dakota.
 total area irrigated is waterlogged—some
 21 million hectares. The productivity on
 this land has fallen by 20 percent; almost as
 much land has been rendered less produc-
 tive by salinization. Even though these esti-
 mates are crude, they tell in capsule the
 story of a second Carthage. Although fully
 half of the world's irrigation capacity  has
 been developed since 1950, those gains are
 already being undermined by waterlogging
 and salinity.
   How much cropland will be paved over,
.built on, strip-mined, or flooded over the
 remainder of this century is unknown, but if
 the projected growth in population and in-
 come should materialize, urbanization,
 energy production, and transportation are
 certain to continue to encroach upon crop-
 land. The threatposed by this continuous
 conversion of cropland to nonfarm uses is
 hard to exaggerate.
   Although attempts to expand the globe's
 cultivated area will likely be numerous, both
 government efforts and the initiative of indi-
 vidual farmers will be offset by ecological
 backsliding. Well before the end of the cen-
 tury, for example, the topsoil will be gone
           from hillside plots in theAndes, the high-
           lands of East Africa, and the foothills and
           rugged valleys of the Himalayas, and all
           will have been abandoned.
             Although the hunger for land has never
           been greater, the amount of cropland aban-
           doned each year as economic pressures
           interact with ecological forces may also be
           ata record high. On balance, it is difficult to
           envisage an increase in the cultivated area
           ofmuchmorethan 10 percent by century's
           end. With projected population increases,
           even this increase would leave us with less
           cereal land per person than we now have.
             If this cropland assessment is  reason-
           able, it will be difficult to satisfy the dou-
           bling in world food demand projected for
           the final quarter of this century by the
           United Nations. Given the modest possibil-
           ities for expanding the cropland area, the
           future rise in land productivity would have
           to accelerate sharply, at a time when it is
           slowing. The best estimates available indi-
           cate that the long-term fertility of one fifth
           of the world's cropland base is now being
           undermined by the rapid loss of topsoil.
Responding effectively to the threats to
cropland associated with mounting food
demands poses a dilemma for farmers and
government planners alike. Both economic
pressures and political instincts encourage
a short-term focus, but pressures to wring
too much out of the land in the short run
can destroy it over the long run.
   Preserving civilization's foundation re-
quires redoubled efforts to protect cropland
from erosion and from conversion to non-
farm uses. Staggering as the challenge may
seem, countries have pulled back from dis-
aster's edge before. The United States
overcame the Oust Bowl threat, and per
haps China's longest march has been that
on the road to agricultural recovery since

Lester Brown is President of the World-
watch Institute. The above article has been
excerpted from his book. Transition—The
Worldwide Effort To Create A Sustainable
Society, to be published in 1981 by W. W.
Norton & Co.

Back cover: Sheep ranching near Ritiy way,  Colo.

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