[Hey everybody: In the Northeast, this particular CO2 swindle netted $88 million with absolutely no measurable climate "benefit"] | The New Republic
Not many people realize that there's already a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions up and running in the United States. I'm referring to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in the Northeast, which includes a cap that came into effect in 2009 and covers CO2 emissions from power plants in ten states. True, the cap isn't very stringent—it doesn't require power plants to make any pollution cuts until 2014—but it does exist.
So how's the program doing? Sean Pool of the Center for American Progress takes a look in this new report, and the results are… well, mixed. Because the cap isn't very strict, the price of carbon is extremely low—a meager $2 per ton of emissions—which isn't really high enough to persuade utilities to change their behavior. But all of those carbon permits are auctioned off by state governments, which has allowed states to raise about $88 million for efficiency and renewable-power programs. So as a funding stream, it's not too shabby (though, in recent months, both New York and New Jersey have been talking about pilfering RGGI money to shore up their budget deficits).