Ellis Takes Middle Gound in Emissions Squabble By Ken Keatley To the philosophical left of Hugh Ellis are the staunch environmentalists, who believe all acid rain should be eliminated and all measures to combat ozone depletion must be implemented. To the right of Hugh Ellis are champions of industry, who believe government mandated pollution control measures ensure that they will lose money and workers will lose jobs. Dr. Ellis, a Hopkins professor of Geography and Environmental Engineering, stands smack dab in the middle. Through his use of a seemingly esoteric mathematical method of examining complex environmental issues--called stochastic, multiobjective modeling--Dr. Ellis has contributed to the dialogue on ozone and acid rain by offering a common sense, risk vs. reward tradeoff assessment in determining which abatement strategies are optimal. "I'm going to go where the information leads me, so it's guaranteed that I'm going to infuriate somebody," said Dr. Ellis, who was recently promoted to full professor; he will deliver his Inaugural Professorial Lecture Tuesday, Nov. 15, at 3 p.m. in the Glass Pavilion. "These are emotional issues, and some people don't like to look at them logically." Dr. Ellis found himself in the middle of a storm of controversy last January, when he released "An Analysis of Ozone Control Strategies of Maryland," which he conducted for the state Department of the Environment. In his study, Dr. Ellis suggested that the California Low Emission Vehicle Program--which has been embraced by many environmentalists--would be too costly and not necessary for Maryland. He recommended that another control strategy already included in the 1990 Clean Air Act--the Federal Tier II Vehicle guidelines--would be more cost effective. Car companies rejoiced, environmentalists lamented and the DOE ignored his recommendation; the agency has petitioned the 12-state Ozone Transport Commission to force the Environmental Protection Agency to require that all states implement the California program. An EPA ruling is expected this week. "That doesn't bother me. I have a good relationship with the DOE, and they're doing what they think is right," said Dr. Ellis, who continues to serve the agency as a member of its Air Quality Control Advisory Council. "I'm not anti-environment; I'm anti-wasting money, and that's what I think the California program would do. "I believe my report is most useful as a tutorial and educational tool," he said. "Maybe I've helped explain this issue, without the emotion, in a way that is understandable to people." Dr. Ellis has also brought his analytical skills to the acid rain issue, serving as a technological adviser for the National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program. "The way I look at the issue is that looking for bad guys is fruitless," he said. "We all want cheap, reliable electric power, and we want it now. So if we're looking for a culprit, we can point the finger at ourselves." Acid rain is a complex issue, Dr. Ellis said, primarily because pollutants generally do not cause problems in the same place they are created. For example, Dr. Ellis said the spot in Maryland with the worst acid rain deposition rate is seemingly pristine Deep Creek Lake in rural Garrett County. "The wind blows west to east, and all you have to do is look to the left on a map and see why Deep Creek gets hammered," he said. In hopes of finding a solution to that problem, Dr. Ellis builds into his equations the chemical, economic, environmental and societal effects of various abatement strategies. He also includes the uncertainty and variability associated with those complicated issues. "I'm a collector and assimilator of information, and am trying to develop models that answer tough questions," he said. "There are no easy answers; they all involve trade-offs."
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