Phosphorus Pollution Cap and Trade

Peter Hirschfeld, reporting for Vermont's NPR News Source:



The clean-up of Lake Champlain looms as perhaps the largest, and most expensive environmental challenge facing Vermont. And state officials are exploring whether a cap-and-trade program for phosphorus runoff might help solve the problem.

“And the theory is that it becomes more economically efficient overall, if you look across the whole sector, that you’re making the best possible investments, the most cost-effective investments, to reduce pollution,” says David Mears, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.

The approach has its critics, but the EPA credits the Acid Raid Program with nearly halving the amount of sulfur dioxide pumped annually into the atmosphere. And Mears wonders whether the same kind of framework might help curb the flow of phosphorus into the most polluted areas of Lake Champlain.

“The idea of using the markets as a way of driving and incentivizing further pollution reduction is an enticing one,” Mears says. “It has worked in other scenarios. It’s still relatively unproven in the context of nutrient pollution into waters.”

Control, control, you must learn control! Use the market force Luke.