SI Vault
Edited by Craig Neff
March 31, 1986
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March 31, 1986


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At last week's Shamrock Summit in Washington with Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, President Ronald Reagan finally acknowledged that acid rain is a real and serious environmental problem. He endorsed a report prepared by the Canadian and U.S. special envoys on acid rain calling for a $5 billion, five-year U.S. effort to develop cleaner ways of burning coal.

But for all the attention it drew, that approval was less significant than it seemed. Reagan has long held that further study is needed before action is taken against acid rain, and the steps suggested in the report still have more to do with research than control.

By contrast, a program with teeth was introduced last week in the Senate. It is the handiwork of Senator Robert T. Stafford (R., Vermont), head of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, who took the opportunity of the Shamrock Summit to propose legislation that would set firm emissions limits in all 50 states. It would order a 12.3-million-ton reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions over the next 10 years and mandate tougher controls on automobile and other sources of nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions. It would require that the President seek acid rain treaties with both Canada and Mexico. The bill has bipartisan sponsorship—though it is expected to be opposed by the President—and similar legislation is now being drafted for introduction in the House.

"The case against air pollution generally and acid rain in particular is becoming clear everywhere in the world," says Stafford. "Lakes and forests are dying, buildings are being destroyed and human health is at stake." He calls his proposed legislation "a turning point" in North America's acid rain controversy.


Twenty-three years ago, before he was an All-Pro with the Baltimore Bullets, Gus Johnson was a high-bounding forward at the University of Idaho. He set school records that still stand—466 rebounds in a season, 31 in a game—and one that looked like it would stand forever. One night at the Corner Club bar in Moscow, Johnson was challenged to demonstrate his leaping ability. From a standing start, he went straight up and slapped a beam at a spot 11'4" off the floor. For his feat he earned a free beer, and a nail was driven into the beam to commemorate the historic jump.

During the next two decades a parade of drunken barflies and Idaho basketball stars took shots at the nail, but none reached it. Then earlier this year Joey Johnson, a 6'3�" freshman at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, pushed open the doors of the saloon and went gunning for Gus. As he laced his sneakers he looked at the nail and said, "No sweat.... It's just a nail." He leaped, and a new Johnson was king. The bartender ceremonially raised the nail three inches. "Jumping is the one thing I can do," said Joey.

He is far too modest. Joey, a brother of Boston Celtic guard Dennis, can also shoot: He averaged 14 points a game this season for Southern Idaho, which was 35-3 and ranked fifth among U.S. junior colleges. But jumping is the thing Johnson does best. His vertical leap from a standing start is an astonishing 48 inches.

Best news of the week for the NFL: Through the first 20 games of this college baseball season, Auburn's Bo Jackson, who's trying to choose between a pro career in football and baseball, is hitting .258—with 29 strikeouts in 66 at bats.

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