The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in late 1986 issued final guidelines for the trading, buying
or selling of allowances to pollute the air. The agency will allow specific sources of pollution to exceed
limits specified by the Clean Air Act, or even increase their emissions, if they can reduce other sources of
pollution within a given area. Under the guidelines, all air pollution from all sources from a given industrial
plant, or from different polluters over a county-wide area, will be regarded as being enclosed in a giant
"bubble" and polluters will be allowed to balance their emissions against those of nearby plants. This means
a plant can buy a less expensive plant and close it if that is cheaper than buying and installing the
equipment necessary to reduce its own emissions to legal levels.
--Peter Montague, Ph.D.
Descriptor terms: epa; guidelines; air pollution; clean air act; emissions; limits; regulations; bubble; pollution rights; trading; banking; regulation;