The Hogan administration announced Friday a renewed effort to devise a "pollution trading" system in Maryland, which proponents contend could speed cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay by lowering the cost.Environmentalists are generally cold towards cap and trade systems because it subsitutes market forces (whoever is willing and able to pay more gets to pollute more) rather than social value and social justice judgements, which they expect to control. Given the choice between pollution from cities and power plants, they would unhesitatingly chose cities, even though cities are the main source of the requirement for power.
Environmentalists reacted cautiously, saying the idea has potential but could worsen pollution if not done carefully.
The state departments of the environment and agriculture jointly released a set of principles for how pollution trading would be done, and pledged to draft guidelines with the help of stakeholders that could permit trading to begin "at the earliest possible moment."I wouldn't be surprised to see this proposal go the same way. The underlying political dynamics in Maryland have not shifted much since the replacement of the hard left Marty O'Malley with the soft right Larry Hogan in the governor's palace.
Proponents say trading could significantly reduce the projected $15 billion cost to Maryland of curtailing nutrient pollution fouling the bay. Communities facing expensive mandates to upgrade sewage plants or reduce stormwater pollution, for instance, might be able to meet their requirements by paying farmers far less to reduce runoff of fertilizer from their fields.
"Enhancing, preserving and restoring the Chesapeake Bay is an expensive proposition," Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. Trading, which brings market forces to bear, is "sound science and strategy, and will help us meet our Chesapeake Bay goals."
The O'Malley administration attempted to craft a trading program but abandoned the effort after failing to get consensus among all parties with a stake in the issue.