Canned in Druidia?

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Wired reports that environmental groups have started buying clean air. My first thought was of President Skroob cracking open a cold one of Perri-Air, but it turns out that this is just the realization of something free-market environmental types have been proposing for years: Under a system of tradeable emissions vouchers, of the sort created by the EPA's allowance auctions, those who think the government has been too lax in setting limits can pool their resources to buy up and "retire" pollution credits.

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  1. Well, that doesn’t really make sense, even leaving aside the exhorbitant cost. Shutting down the plant doesn’t eliminate the market niche it was serving. Close it down and another doing roughly the same thing opens–maybe it’s even opened by the owner of the old plant using the money earned from the sale.

  2. So. Cal has an “emissions market” and it has helped meet levels while still giving polluters some flexibility.

    Enviros buying up those emissions credits and vouchers is perfectly reasonable. It would be across the wide market of tradeable shares.

    Buying a plant is not because it would still be in demand to fill a specific need.

    Enviros are helping reduce overall levels. That’s the right method for pollution.

  3. Julian,
    One advantage of shutting down an old plant is that a lot of the pollution controls required by the Clean Air Act are not required for old plants until they made significant capital investments.

    Let’s say they shut down a coal plant built in the 60s that had emissions that would be illegal in a new plant due to grandfathering. In theory, buying this plant would reduce the supply of energy and raise the costs (at least in the short term). People in that service area would cut back on their energy usage due to the higher cost. The new plant that would get built would be cleaner than the one the enviros purchased, which would accomplish what they wanted.

    I wouldn’t blow the money in this scheme, but heck, it’s their money to waste.

  4. It doesn’t have to make sense, it’s about green and nothing green makes sense.

  5. It must be nice not to have to think about things, Walter. I spend so much effort considering the merits of ideas.

  6. Joe, it must be hard to know that so much effort is wasted.

  7. Lets all remember that the “market” for pollution credits is a wholly artificial creation of government fiat. Its nice that for once the greenies are spending their own money instead of yours and mine, but beyond that, there’s nothing to cheer about here.

  8. Well, there’s the whole “fewer people breathing dangerous toxins” thing, RC. But yeah, other than that, there’s nothing to celebrate.

  9. Lets all remember that the “market” for pollution credits is a wholly artificial creation of government fiat.

    True. But the reason for that fiat is to quantify the externalities imposed by such pollution while at the same time creating a free market in which these externalities can be managed.

    What’s funny is that for years conservatives and libertarians have been claiming, “if only the liberals in government would use a free market solution for handling environmental issues instead of odious regulations, all would be well.” So they did. And the liberals are using the market to accomplish their political and environmental goals. And the conservatives and libertarians are howling.

    I’m beginning to miss the angry conservatives and libertarians that wanted to hunt down every last liberal through the woods with dogs. The “whiners” seem to have replaced the “tough guys.” What the heck?

  10. RC,

    If you’re an anarchist there’s nothing much to cheer about.
    If you’re merely trying to reduce transfer payments at the government level and indirect subsidies, then yeah, there is.

  11. Several years back, Tom the Dancing Bug comics by Reuben Bolling did an episode called “Tales of Market Driven Crimes”, wherein the credits being traded were death credits. In the comic, a householder surprises a burglar, but does not use his justifable homicide credit. Instead, he sells it to Crime Brokers. It is then re sold to another party, whose response is “Yeh? You found a seller? Thanks, Crime Brokers. Okay, go ahead, Sluggo.”

    The comic ends with: “The same number of deaths occur, but with a more efficient allocation. Another happy outcome, when crimes are market driven.”

    Hoarding pollution credits is an interesting tactic. I understand they’re going after commercial fishing permits, too. If it works, no more electricity or fish for you!

  12. “If it works, no more electricity or fish for you!”

    Yeah yeah, and if leaded gasoline is outlawed, there will be no automobile manufacturing in America after 1975.

    I’m sorry you have so little confidence in the ability of American industry to innovate. They’ve got a pretty good track record over the past 200 years.

  13. nice one, Julian. give me paw.

    excellent movie reference.

  14. Damn that Cohaagen !

  15. Your mother’s brother’s wife’s cousin’s roommate in college was my uncle’s second wife’s first cousin’s boyfriend.

    So what does that make us?

    Nothing, which is what you’ll soon be!

  16. As near as I know, there is no law against these folk buying the polluting plants and shutting them dowm. They are even permitted, under existing law, to continue to pay the salaries of everyone employed at the closed plants.

  17. Here comes some heresy from everybody’s least favorite left-libertarian:

    I really don’t have any principled objections to regulations addressing externalities. I have a whole lot of practical objections to some of those regulations, and so I may be skeptical of a lot of environmental regulations. I’m not big on saving nature for the sake of nature, but I’m big on saving nature for the sake of mankind. I’m not big on regulating industry because, um, well, some people don’t like it, but I’m big on the principle that what comes out of one person’s smoke stack imposes costs on somebody who never consented to the transaction producing the smoke.

    I don’t subscribe to every fear factor that comes down the environmentalist pipeline, but I don’t reject it as a matter of ideology either. If you want to pollute a patch of land that you own and it isn’t over any aquifers, I say go for it. But if you want to dump something in air or water that will be crossing property lines, and if the thing you’re dumping harms other people, maybe, just maybe, you have some responsibility for it.

    To put it in perspective, what if I owned land next to an oil field, and something that I dumped on my land leaked into the oil field and lowered the sale price of the oil? Everybody here would be all over it, and argue that I have a responsibility to the oil company. Or what if a smart version of Rosie O’Donnell found some gaseous substance that damages guns, and started emitting vast plumes of this stuff into the air? People on this forum would be adamant that the gun owners have a right to an environment free of the anti-gun pollutant.

  18. Joe:

    It’s not that I have any lack of confidence in the ability of American industry to innovate — it’s that there is so much bloody regulation on the energy industry that innovation is effectively illegal.

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