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Global Warming

March 2001

Citation: ELR 10253

Author: Arnold W. Reitze, Jr.

Efficient combustion largely prevents the formation of many criteria pollutants. Carbon monoxide (CO) emissions usually are created by combustion in an oxygen deficient environment.1 Hydrocarbon emissions often result from incomplete combustion caused by such factors as low fuel temperature, too rich or too lean air-fuel ratios during and after combustion, and poor distribution of fuel within the combustion chamber.2 Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is primarily created from the oxidation of nitrogen in the air during combustion at high temperatures.3 Ozone and other photochemical oxidants are created during atmospheric reactions involving nitrogen oxides (NOx) and hydrocarbons (HCs).4 Thus, conventional air pollution control efforts usually aim to create ideal combustion conditions so that the combustion byproducts are carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor. This is expressed as:

HC + O2 + N2 —> CO2 + H2O + N2 + heat 5

However, even ideal combustion that produces only CO2 and water vapor can threaten the global ecosystem if large quantities of CO2 emissions and other global warming gases released from anthropogenic sources disrupt the natural global atmospheric balance that has evolved over time spans associated with geologic processes.6

[Editors' Note: This Article will be included as a chapter in a new treatise on air pollution control, compliance, and enforcement authored by Prof. Reitze and published by the Environmental Law Institute. The 20-chapter treatise will include up-to-date discussions of the history of the air pollution control program in the United States; air pollution control and trends; prevention of significant deterioration and visibility protection; air quality planning; nonattainment; fuels and fuel additives; mobile sources; electric power industry regulation; control of hazardous air pollution; preconstruction permits; operating permits; control of air pollution from motor vehicles by state governments; stratospheric ozone; global warming; reporting requirements for nonroutine hazardous pollutant releases; self-monitoring and self-reporting of routine air pollution releases; inspections; civil enforcement; criminal penalties; and private remedies.

The treatise will be published in the spring of 2001. Orders are now being accepted. Additional information may be obtained from www.eli.org, by calling (202) 939-3844 or (800) 433-5120, or by e-mailing orders@eli.org.]

The author is the J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law at George Washington University and special consulting counsel to LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, Washington, D.C. This Article will be included as a chapter in a new treatise on air pollution control, compliance and enforcement authored by Prof. Reitze and published by the Environmental Law Institute. The comprehensive 20-chapter treatise will include up-to-date discussions of the history of the air pollution control program in the United States; air pollution control and trends; prevention of significant deterioration and visibility protection; air quality planning; nonattainment; fuels and fuel additives; mobile sources; electric power industry regulation; control of hazardous air pollution; preconstruction permits; operating permits; control of air pollution from motor vehicles by state governments; stratospheric ozone; global warming; reporting requirements for nonroutine hazardous pollutant releases; self-monitoring and self-reporting of routine air pollution releases; inspections; civil enforcement; criminal penalties; and private remedies.

The treatise will be published in the spring of 2001. Orders are now being accepted. Additional information may be obtained from www.eli.org, by calling (202) 939-3844 or (800) 433-5120, or by e-mailing orders@eli.org.

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