Corruption Hits Emissions Trading


The Los Angeles Times today has the sad story (reg. req., alas) But here's the gist:

Federal authorities arrested an architect of one of Southern California's most ambitious clean air programs Wednesday, culminating an investigation into claims that she defrauded companies of tens of millions of dollars.
A decade ago, [Anne] Sholtz helped the South Coast Air Quality Management District design a controversial pollution program called the Regional Clean Air Incentives Market, or RECLAIM. It allows more than 300 companies, including some of the region's largest businesses, to trade "pollution credits" among one another, while capping the overall amount of unhealthful exhaust they are allowed to emit from their factories and power plants.

The year the program was launched, 1993, Sholtz started a Pasadena-based auction house where companies could buy and sell the pollution credits. Federal prosecutors now allege that she made fraudulent trades and other illegal transactions while acting as a broker in the system she helped establish. According to investigators, the bogus transactions proved costly to dozens of large oil and power companies, including Sempra Energy and Reliant Energy.

$13 million passed through her personal bank account in 2002, which is apparently suspicious, I guess. The parent company of her emissions trading exchange filed for bankruptcy in 2002, and aggrieved companies who did emissions-trading business with Sholtz have filed many multi-million dollar claims against that company. Among the schemes she is alleged to have indulged in are selling the same pollution credits to different companies.

I wrote about the early stages, theories, and realities of emissions-trading programs (including RECLAIM) intended to help manage pollution in Reason way back in 1996.

NEXT: Commie Foodstuffs

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  1. "...the bogus transactions proved costly to dozens of large oil and power companies, including Sempra Energy and Reliant Energy."

    Awwww, poor wittle put-upon energy companies. Sniffle.

  2. In a sense, this is a smaller scaled version of Kyoto Emission control credit. Now just take the corruption to the next order of magnitude, and you'll have Kyoto Protocol.

  3. Lots of folks in this forum have complained in the past when they weren't warned about registration. File it under customer service. And the hat tip is simply giving credit where it's due, instead of taking credit for media sleuthing that was someone else's.

    And you're actually writing 8-paragraph screeds complaining about the wasted time and space of a 6-letter parenthetical?

  4. Another link if you have problems with the first

  5. 1. Just curious: Why do bloggers always feel compelled to add the parenthetical "reg. req." (registration required) when linking to news sites in which, well, registration is required?

    What's the rationale behind the "warning"? Seems like a real waste of space and time, a cluttery little eyesore in the middle of the text. It's not 1995 anymore; most people can handle the familiar sight of encountering a registration page. Do bloggers who use this device actually think they're providing some handy reader service?

    2. On the topic of curious blogger habits, why do bloggers always feel compelled to add the parenthetical "link via so-and-so" when pointing to some story on the Web?

    What's the rationale? Why squander time with a nod to some other blogger who happened to link to the story first? Seems like a real waste of space and time, a cluttery little eyesore in the middle of the text. Linking is the very essence of the Web; encountering links is what we all do as we surf. What's the purpose of pointing out the place where a certain link was encountered? It's not as if the cited blogger has created something of his own that merits credit; he's simply provided a pointer to something else that's already out there for anybody to see. Going out of the way to cite the blogger, just because he linked to the same thing you're linking to, is such a strange, arbitrary gesture.

  6. "And you're actually writing 8-paragraph screeds complaining about the wasted time and space of a 6-letter parenthetical?"

    Why are you posing that in the form of a question? Do you actually need a yes or no answer? Obviously I wrote an eight-paragraph screed; it's sitting right there. Can't you see it?

    Changing a car's oil is a pretty simple, quick task. But there are entire volumes devoted to the topic. There's nothing incongruent in writing at length about a topic that itself involves something not lengthy.

    But thank you for attempting an answer to one of my questions: noting that people have complained when not warned about registrations. I now wonder if these complainers are people who just signed up with WebTV and have been online for a couple of days. Feeling entitled to be "warned" about a registration is kind of, you know, goofy.

  7. How embarrassing.

    NPR is willing to fess up and present the Putin press conference straight, even given the damnable position it places war opponents in who claim that Saddam didn't support anti-American terror.

    Still no link from Hit and Run.

    I guess Hit and Run is only for important news that fits the party line.

    Why is it that an old-line media organization with a hard-left orientation is willing to spill the beans and REASON is running and ducking?

    P.S. Still waiting on the REASON review of Hayes _Connection_

  8. "Link via Instapundit" is also irrelevant, and creates that same clumsy communication."

    ahh, you've obviously never had to promote some shitty show at a local bar, have you? (you can replace shitty with underground if you like πŸ™‚

    same idea, but electronic. its why you buy someone a beer because you said you would the last time they bought you a beer.

    personally, i like knowing that registration is impending for some link cause i'll avoid that shit or hit the thingamajig.

  9. Brian - the original article was really interesting. It's too bad it's so old. Anyone know a more recent one that's got details about how this stuff all works out in practice?

  10. What's the rationale behind the "warning"?

    Sam I was, if he didn't do it, a bunch of commentors would complain about it. Ya dig? πŸ˜‰

  11. Doesn't come as a surprise. The green lobby has always been about control. This is just one green person exercising her power to steal. Rather than grant us clean air πŸ™‚

  12. Emissions quota trading is a Green initiative? I thought it was a "market-based approach" advanced by conservatives and pragmatic libertarians.

    I thought the center-left and the left disliked it, preferring across-the-board regulatory caps instead.

  13. Darnell writes: "if he didn't do it, a bunch of commentors would complain about it. Ya dig?"

    Actually, nah, I don't. I mean, you may be right -- maybe some people would complain. But why? In 2004, anybody who's smart enough to turn on a computer is certainly acquainted with the concept of site registration. I just don't see why it's such a big deal that it merits a preliminary "warning."

    Unless somebody can provide a good rationale, I'm going to assume that it's simply become a knee-jerk custom, used by people who don't know WHY they're using it but merely think that's what they're "supposed to do."

  14. From the 1996 article: "(Users of VOC-containing products) explain--some patiently, some not--to the SCAQMD bureaucrats lined up before them that those bureaucrats are talking through their hat. Market or no market, no way, no how, can SCAQMD's proposed standards be met."

    Oops. Corporate chicken littles, always thinking the sky's falling whenever an environmental reg is adopted. They should have a little more faith in the capacity of the American economy to innovate.

    I'll file this one with " automobile manufacturing after 1975."

  15. Sam I Was:

    Because people don't like to give out the type of info that registration requires on most sites. It allows the user to determine if the topic is interesting enough to submit said information before clicking on the link.

    They give credit to those who point out stories because they're being courteous. Also, some people wouldn't send links if they didn't get their treat at the end of the day. Maybe not most people, but some.

    Either way, don't worry about it or go start your own blog without these features.

  16. Sorry to hijack a thread, but when do we get a H&R link to the Putin story?

    Or is it only links that damage the Bush administration that get gleefully linked up within minutes, not ones that make the Iraq invasion look eminently sensible?

  17. I guess we won't get one until Sanchez et. al. can figure out a way to make the Putin story look bad for "Evil King George".

    Look guys, even NPR is running this story straight and admitting it really helps the Bush Administration's story on Iraq.

  18. Matthew Cromer

    If you wanted to hijack the thread, you should have just posted the link yourself.

  19. Hat Tip:

    That some people dislike registration is beside the point. Some people hate pop-up ads and flashing banners and sports sites and pages with white-on-blue text, yet bloggers don't waste everybody's time pointing out these potential irritations. The "reg. req." habit is odd. Again, I suspect a lot of bloggers do it simply because they've seen it done elsewhere, so they just figure "that's what you do," without actually thinking through the WHY.

    On to the topic of links. You write: "They give credit to those who point out stories because they're being courteous." Perhaps so. But it's certainly a bizarre "courtesy." What purpose does "Link via Romenesko" or "Link via Instapundit" ultimately serve?

    Let's say I'm writing a book. While visiting a friend, I happen to browse a magazine on his coffee table, and it turns out there's an article relevant to my book. In my book, I cite the magazine, providing proper credit for the source material. But I don't clutter up my prose with "New Republic article via Bill Johnson's coffee table." Not only does NOBODY CARE where I found the magazine; more important, it's an unnecessary distraction, blocking efficient communication between me and my readers.

    Let's say a newspaper columnist pens a blurb about a cool new travel website. His readers would not be served by a "courtesy" parenthetical ("By the way, I found this site while browsing a Yahoo directory"). Such extraneous info can only distract from the real objective: pointing out a new travel website. Cluttering up the blurb with an irrelevant tidbit makes for clumsy communication.

    "Link via Instapundit" is also irrelevant, and creates that same clumsy communication.

    Finally, you write: "...don't worry about it or go start your own blog without these features." Huh? There's something wrong with making an observation and offering an opinion? Off-the-cuff analogy: Tim Cavanaugh just posted something about soy production in China. Should he not be "worrying about it"? Should he start his own China, one "without these features" of current condiment production?

    Give me a break.

    Nobody has yet provided a sufficient answer to my questions. (Unless something has popped up during the inevitable delay as the Hit & Run software sluggishly publishes this post.) Some of you may find my questions to be utterly useless and gratingly pedantic, but I'm pretty interested in this stuff. It's sort of like the fascination some of us have with the nature of traffic patterns. When your morning commute is filled with little irritations, it's interesting to find out what causes them, even if the bigger issue is simply getting to the office.

  20. Matthew, please do, I can't find it. Putin story?

  21. 1. To matthew c: I'm sorry, maybe I missed something...but isn't Putin, former KGB cruelist, pretty much on the same level as Saddam? I have got to be honest, now that he said that, I am for the very first time ABSOULTLEY sure Saddam was not going to attack us. As an american patriot, I take anything the KGB says and believe the oppsite, I sorry, but color me Reagan.

    2. about the "Reg Req". You silly mofo's.

    3. Brian, Why is it sad? I have always believed in the free market, but I am a realist. On of the problems with Communsim is it blamed Capitalism for the "sins" of Humanity. One of the weakness's of my fellow "Free Markerter's" is that they ignore, just as Marx did, what we do know about humans. Maximun freedom does not mean anarchy. Private enterprise is as liable to corruption as public enterprise. Denying this leads us down these roads. Not sad, just reality. To set up a free market system without acknowledging humanities weakness's as well as our strengths, is well, that's just plain marxist. Isn't it. As many have pointed out, there were indeed free market arguements made in favor of slavery. That still didn't make them right.

  22. Sam I Was,

    While we're at it, what's with this crap about bringing a gift when you're invited to someone's home? And why wine? A lot of people would like Pepsi and Ho-Hos better.

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