Monday, December 26, 2011

James Connaughton Gets It Right With Cap & Trade

James Connaughton
Former White House Council On Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chairman James Connaughton is remaining true to the cap and trade philosophy that was developed by his former boss's father.  Republicans and Democrats have switched sides on emissions trading, but Jim is sticking with an approach that the Center agrees is the best way to mitigate emissions.

Connaughton states:
The more market-based approach [cap-and-trade regulatory system] creates opportunities to optimize your pollution control of both [smog-forming compounds] and air toxics. Performance-based [regulations] set the target, usually based on benefit/cost, and then let the private sector sort out the most cost-effective way to get there. And there’s no better example of that than the acid rain trading program. Its main purpose was to deal with the acidification associated with power plant emissions. And no program has been more successful at lower costs, with lower bureaucracy, with virtually no litigation.

If you have a really effective and stringent market-based approach to air pollution, you’re going to get rid of a lot of your air toxics. Now, are you still left with peaks and valleys from one region to another? Yes. But are the peaks and valleys a lot smaller than they were before you did the market-based regulation? Absolutely. The “hot spot” becomes a less and less applicable concept as we get dramatic pollution reductions. You’re always going to have an unequal distribution of emissions of some sort, but pollution is so low now that, relatively speaking, the highs are just not that far away from the lows. Before, there used to be big differences.
(More-The Center for Public Integrity Interview, 12/22/2011))

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