Cap-and-Trade's Proven Record for Cutting Pollution

Sunday, May 31, 2009

David Sokol's May 19 op-ed, "Let's Have Cap and No Trade," got the economics of a cap-and-trade policy wrong in both theory and practice. We know this because the United States adopted cap-and-trade 19 years ago to control acid rain pollution. The approach cut sulfur dioxide emissions in half, three years ahead of schedule and at a small fraction of the predicted cost. And the trading component of the program is estimated to have saved consumers and ratepayers billions of dollars a year. So much for "double costs."

By putting a cap on carbon emissions, we would create an enormous economic incentive for entrepreneurs and innovators to develop the next generation of clean energy technologies. And a well-designed plan, like the climate legislation moving through Congress, would use the value generated by the program to protect consumers. That's why major electric utilities such as Duke Energy, Exelon, Pacific Gas and Electric and others support a cap-and-trade program.

History has not been kind to central planners. The way to solve global warming is to harness the power of the market rather than let the government pick the winners. It's time to unleash America's entrepreneurs and inventors to solve this critical challenge.


Director, Economic Policy and Analysis

Environmental Defense Fund

New York

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