Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Northeast States Step in where EPA Won't

Nine states have worked out a preliminary agreement to cap and reduce power plant emissions of CO2 by 10% over the next 15 years. The NYT reports that Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont have agreed to a set up a system of tradable emission allowances to offset the expected higher energy costs associated with pollution controls. The White House did its best to put a positive spin on its own inaction:
In a statement, James L. Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, tried to put the states' initiative in a positive light. "We welcome all efforts to help meet the president's goal for significantly reducing greenhouse gas intensity by investing in new, more efficient technologies," he said.
Left unsaid in that statement is the fact that Bush has stubbornly refused to consider actually requiring utilities to reduce emissions.
Trading emission allowances is a rational strategy for reducing CO2, which affects large regions. The same cannot be said for trading mercury emission allowances, as proposed by the Bush administration. CO2 is a gas. Mercury is a heavy metal that lingers for years. If a power plant in New Jersey reduces greenhouse gas emissions, there is a benefit for Delaware. But mercury emissions in Delaware harm those who live or work close to the plant, and that harm cannot be offset by reduced mercury emissions elsewhere.

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