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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about a cap-and-trade policy for CO2 emissions, why the West shouldn't lecture China about greenhouse-gases, the need for Afghanistan's neighbors to help contain the volatile country, and mandatory service in the US.

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Cap-and-trade works for other effluents, why not CO2?

Regarding the Feb. 13 Opinion piece, "To slow climate change, tax carbon": Author Nick Schulz's advocacy for a carbon tax rather than a cap-and-trade approach fails to acknowledge several advantages to cap-and-trade.

First, cap-and-trade is not a "volatile financial instrument." Carbon allowances are not derivatives; they are units of regulatory compliance that would be used by the capped sources to achieve their respective CO2 reduction requirements. The fact that carbon prices in Europe have fallen simply means that it will be less expensive for companies to comply with their carbon caps.

Second, in the US, we not only have a taxation mechanism in place, we also have a cap-and-trade mechanism in place. The EPA began administering the sulfur dioxide cap-and-trade program in 1995, pursuant to Title IV of the Clean Air Act. The efficient market for SO2 allowances that resulted has been part of the inspiration for the cap-and-trade provisions of the Kyoto Protocol, as well as for a domestic nitrogen oxide trading program that began in the Northeast in 1999. [Editor's note:

The original version misidentified the date of the trading program's debut.

We have an abundance of cap-and-trade expertise in place in our federal and state governments. Given the extent of the greenhouse-gas reductions that are needed, we should deploy every tool available where it can work most effectively. In some cases, a carbon tax may be appropriate, but cap-and-trade will also be essential to achieving these goals cost-effectively.


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