Nation's First Cap-And-Trade Plan Has an Uncertain Future

"In the eyes of health advocates and some policymakers, the nation's fleet of power plants has its share of decrepit clunkers, relics that are barely sticking around.

But some people might apply a similar description to the cap-and-trade program that Congress created 20 years ago to cut air pollution from those power plants. The plan was wildly successful in its time, but over the past decade, U.S. EPA's plans to keep cleaning up the air through emissions trading were torn to shreds by judges and left in tatters by the wide partisan divide on Capitol Hill.

Now, as the Obama administration tries to cobble back together its signature cap-and-trade program under the Clean Air Act, it faces a daunting array of lawsuits, political pressures and regulatory snags. But supporters of trading are trying to stay optimistic.

They are poring over EPA's new rules for interstate soot and smog, which will set emissions limits for power plants in 27 Eastern states. Power producers aren't sure what to make of the final plan, which runs 1,323 pages -- not including a 414-page economic analysis and a 99-page explanation of how the emissions allowances will be doled out."

Gabriel Nelson reports for Greenwire July 19, 2011.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011