The “Carbon Cap” issue

The Carbon Cap-and-Trade bill, passed in June of 2009, was the first big step in reducing carbon and pollutant emissions on a nationwide scale. Although no one seemed pleased with the bill (deemed a “corporate giveaway by environmental agencies such as Greenpeace and a piece of legislation that will “hobble the economy” by Republican spokespeople), the proposed carbon control program would aim to reduce carbon emissions by 15% when it is fully implemented in 2015. Several carbon cap initiatives already exist in Europe, as I have mentioned in a previous post, but this would be the first large-scale attempt made in the United States.  Energy experts say that the most difficult aspect of the project is where to set the carbon caps: the European Union’s first attempt set the carbon caps far too high, eliminating any value that the credits had. Putting the caps too low, however, would also backfire and result in the stretching of already limited natural gas resources. This debate is still progressing, and no official numbers on what the US carbon cap will be have been released yet.

This issue is closely tied to Arizona’s recent withdrawal from the Western Climate Initiative, even though it was a founding member of the group in 2007. The goal of the WCI is similar to that of the Cap-and-Trade bill: companies would purchase pollution allowances which could be traded among companies and across fields. Arizona governor Jan Brewer stated that Arizona relies more heavily on coal-generated electricity than the other members of the WCI, thus they would be affected most by the decrease in fossil-fuel usage. She says that Arizona will remain on the Climate Registry List and that companies in Arizona will be asked to follow WCI guidelines on a volunteer basis.

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