In March 1993, the EPA auctioned off 150,010 sulfer dioxide emissions permits at the Chicago Board of Trade. The auction brought in $21.4 million and ushered in the Clean Air Act's market-based approach to sulfur dioxide control. Congress created these marketable pollution allowances (MPAs) under Title IV of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 19903 to regulate acid rain pollution. While most MPAs were bought by utilities, to be exchanged as a commodity according to need, some MPAs were removed from the market solely to prevent their use by polluters. The Cleveland-based National Healthy Air License Exchange bought one allowance and hopes to move ten percent of the available permits to nonprofit nonusers.4 The role of these nonusers is one of many elements of uncertainty affecting the viability of this control scheme. This essay addresses the property rights which permit market principles to make an MPA control method effective. It then evaluates the MPA program by comparing it to another alternative form of pollution regulation--emission fees-and concludes by urging caution with regard to both the program's implementation and expectations.
Krier, James E. "Marketable Pollution Allowances (Great Lakes Symposium)." U. Tol. L. Rev. 25, no. 2 (1994): 449-55.