Western states unveil draft cap-and-trade scheme
The Western Climate Initiative has unveiled a draft proposal for a regional cap-and-trade program that would kick off in 2012. The 11 states and provinces involved — Arizona, British Columbia, California, Manitoba, Montana, New Mexico, Ontario, Oregon, Quebec, Utah, and Washington — would impose an as-yet-determined greenhouse-gas emissions limit on industries and utilities, then allow laggards to purchase carbon credits from those that cleaned up their acts. States and provinces would decide individually whether to freely hand out credits or to auction them. Reactions to the draft proposal were mixed; industries craved more detail, while environmentalists expressed concern that companies would be allowed to offset up to 10 percent of their emissions and that transportation and heating fuels would not be regulated until 2015. After a period of public comment, the final proposal is due in September; state and provincial governments will have to OK the plans before they become official.