The United States EPA has released a study of the effectiveness of the sulfur cap-and-trade system it initiated under Federal law in 1990. They do not directly compare the challenges faced in regulating atmospheric sulfur starting in 1990 with the challenges of regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, but the success as they report it with sulfur regulation using cap-and-trade, should certainly be part of any study for implementation of greenhouse gas cap-and-trade policies.
As with all such Federal studies that are not classified (for security or similar reasons), it has been released to the public. I would still want to understand how the economics of re-tooling almost every economic and consumer activity compares with the scale of the sulfur problem, which required primarily a change in power generation technology.
The authors' 15 years of experience with the Acid Rain Program suggests that for regional or larger-scale air pollution problems, such as acid rain and pollution transport, a well-designed cap-and-trade program can be cost-effective, flexible, and easy to implement with clear benefits that can be sustained into the future.
In 1990, Congress passed the Clean Air Act Amendments. The Acid Rain Program (ARP) was developed based on the specifications of Title IV of these amendments. EPA's Clean Air Markets Division (CAMD) developed and currently administers this program. Using experiences gained from operating the ARP, CAMD developed other cap and trade programs: The Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) NOx Trading Program, the NOx Budget Trading Program (NBP) and most recently, the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR). CAMD continues to run these highly successful programs. In general, lessons learned demonstrate that cap and trade:
Offers an alternative to traditional regulation and credit trading
Provides greater environmental certainty that a specific emission level is achieved and maintained
Provides greater regulatory certainty, compliance flexibility, and lower permitting and transaction costs for sources
Requires fewer administrative resources from industry and government—if program is kept simple
Creates incentives for innovation, early reductions, and high compliance
Can be compatible with other mechanisms—source-specific requirements, taxes, voluntary measures
Drives costs down below direct control approaches, making more air emissions reductions attainable
Below are the lessons that CAMD has learned in the context of developing and operating the ARP and NBP.
The Acid Rain Program
The paper, "The U.S. Acid Rain Program: Key Insights from the Design, Operation, and Assessment of a Cap-and-Trade Program," written and published by The Electricity Journal, Vol. 20 Issue 7, August-September 2007, pp. 47-58, details the Acid Rain Program since its inception in 1995.
The paper, "The NOx Budget Trading Program: A Collaborative, Innovative Approach to Solving a Regional Air Pollution Problem," written and published by The Electricity Journal, Vol 20/9 pp. 65-76, Nov. 2007, details the NOx Budget Trading Program since its inception.
My lifelong pursuit, since age 18, has been to live more fully and find wisdom. This has involved studies with Zen masters, Tai Chi masters, and great psychotherapists while achieving my license as a gestalt therapist and psychoanalyst.
Along the way, I became aware of how the planet is under great stress due to the driven nature of human activity on this planet.
I believe that the advancement of human well-being will reduce societies addictive behaviors, and will thus also help preserve the environment and perhaps slow down the effects of global warming and other major threats to the health of human societies.