Establish Pollution Permit Trading Systems

In this system, permits for discharging specific quantities of pollutants into the environment are issued or auctioned off to industry. The number of permits can be lowered over time to reduce the total amount of pollution allowed. Importantly, the permits can also be sold or traded, which provides industry with important flexibility in how it achieves compliance with pollution controls. The system also creates incentives for cleaner business: old facilities can be renovated, or newer, efficient facilities can be built, allowing their owners to sell their pollution credits and increase profits. This type of system has already been successful in greatly reducing U.S. emissions of sulfur dioxide, a product of burning coal and a main cause of acid rain. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency presides over the exchanges of credits, phasing out some of the existing credits each time an exchange is made, as well as reducing the total number of permits.

—Sacha Spector

Bibliography

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