Reacting to the CBS "60 Minutes" broadcast on acid rain, your paper ran a Jan. 14 news story admitting that you had "virtually ignored" a major environmental news story: the authoritative study by the National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program, which concluded that acid rain is not and never was the calamity projected to the public by environmental activists and most of the media.

We learned that your environmental reporter was "on vacation" when the results of the 10-year study, commissioned by Congress at a cost of more than $500 million, were officially released and that "many people involved in the acid rain debate told him it had little news value."

Little news value? The NAPAP results were a blockbuster. Some 30,000 scientists worked on the study, and 300 were involved in writing the report. They confirmed that the 1990 acid-rain legislation, which ignored the NAPAP study, represents a billion-dollar solution to a million-dollar problem.

There is no scientific doubt now that the benefits of the additional acid rain controls in the 1990 Clean Air Act are nowhere near commensurate with the enormous costs about to be placed on the American consumer -- a hidden tax of at least $4 billion per year that wastes energy and creates more carbon dioxide and semi-solid sludge wastes but does little good for the environment.

One can only conclude that activists and their friends in government and the media did not like the NAPAP conclusion -- that acid rain is not a serious environmental threat -- and have therefore tried to bury or even discredit NAPAP.

-- S. Fred Singer

The writer directs a project on Science and Environmental Policy at the Washington Institute for Values in Public Policy.