GHG regulation: The siren song of cap-and-trade

Vol. 43 No. 5

Donald R. van der Vaart and John C. Evans work with the North Carolina Air Quality Permits Section. The views expressed here are exclusively those of the authors and not necessarily those of the North Carolina Division of Air Quality.

In 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the Greenhouse Gas Endangerment Finding (GHG-EF) claiming that reductions in GHGs would reduce such wide-ranging maladies as neighborhood degradation to increased tick-borne diseases. Since that time, EPA’s only substantive regulation of stationary sources has been through the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) preconstruction permitting program. The Clean Air Act (CAA) provides at least two paths to regulating GHGs from stationary sources: (1) National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) approach, or (2) New Source Performance Standard (NSPS) approach. Underlying either approach is the desire by some to adopt existing cap-and-trade programs that have already been developed in some states. This article provides a brief overview of these two disparate approaches to regulating GHGs and the potential for incorporation of a cap-and-trade system.

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