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RAIN OF DEATH
The U.S. and Canada agreed last week to begin negotiating a treaty to control acid rain by June 1, 1981. Canada complains that much of the trouble it has been having with acid rain originates in coal-fired plants in the U.S. Emissions from those plants are borne by winds to the Northeastern U.S., Ontario and Quebec, where highly acidic precipitation results, a phenomenon Canadian Environment Minister John Roberts describes as "literally a rain of death."
Despite last week's agreement, there are fears that acid rain will become worse on both sides of the border because of the U.S. push to convert power plants from oil to coal to reduce its dependence on imported oil. Although the technology exists for keeping pollution caused by such conversions to a minimum, political support for imposing the necessary emission controls is largely confined to the Northeast. As a result, an amendment requiring stringent antipollution safeguards was defeated when the Senate approved a $4.2 billion outlay to finance coal conversion last June. The question of pollution controls will next be debated when the bill comes up in the House, probably later this month.
Tougher emission controls are being pushed by the Environmental Protection Agency, which points out that acid rain has destroyed crops and corroded buildings and monuments, including the Statue of Liberty. This is in addition to the fact that acid rain has reduced the fish population of hundreds of lakes in the U.S. and Canada; a growing number of lakes that once teemed with fish are now devoid of life.
Politicians in coal-producing states argue that emission controls should be deferred pending further study of acid rain. Such stalling tactics must be recognized as just that. In a speech two weeks ago at the American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association show in St. Louis, Lennart Borgstrom, president of a Swedish tackle concern, ABU-Garcia, Inc., noted that his country has long suffered the ravages of acid rain. "We have done the research in Sweden," Borgstrom said. "The only thing that more studying will accomplish is to make this the best documented disaster in history."
Dan Tehan, who died last week at 73, was an NFL field official for 35 seasons, longer than any other official in league history. When he worked his first game in 1930, a crowd of 5,000 in the NFL was something to get excited about. By the time he retired after the 1964 season, throngs of 70,000 were routine. As professional football prospered, Tehan did all right, too. In 1946 he was elected sheriff of Ohio's Hamilton County, which encompasses Cincinnati, and he got himself reelected to that job for the next 26 years. Not bad for a Democrat in a heavily Republican county.
A tall, authoritarian figure, Tehan earned a reputation for reliability among NFL coaches. Paul Brown recalls questioning one of Tehan's decisions during a game. "I'll be back in two weeks," Tehan replied evenly. "Let me know how it turns out on the film." On his return, Tehan said, "How'd it look, Coach?" A chastened Brown was compelled to reply, "You know darned well how it looked, or you wouldn't have asked." Tehan also had a knack for minimizing the damage done by less competent officials. A zebra with whom he was working one day mistakenly blew his whistle on a play in Tehan's territory. "Whatta you got?" asked Tehan. "Pass interference," the official said. Tehan knew there had been no such violation. "I got backfield in motion," he said, thereby offsetting the uncalled-for penalty.
HE'S THE BERRIES
Darryl Strawberry, the New York Mets' $200,000 bonus baby, is playing centerfield for the club's Appalachian League farm team in Kingsport, Tenn. When the 18-year-old Strawberry arrived the other day for a game in Paintsville, Ky., the home team celebrated his local debut by offering free admission to anybody bringing along a strawberry. It also dropped strawberries from a helicopter before the game, sold strawberry soda and sundaes at the concession stand and planted strawberries in an area of the outfield dubbed for the occasion "the strawberry patch."