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Air pollution trading can be done on Internet - EPA

Air pollution trading can be done on Internet - EPA
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration this week unveiled an Internet system for utilities and other companies to trade air pollution allowances electronically instead of submitting paper documents to the Environmental Protection Agency. The system is designed for trade in the $20 billion U.S. sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide market, which is regulated by the EPA. The pollutants are primarily emitted by coal-fired power plants and are linked to acid rain and smog. \"EPA expects this online system will streamline and accelerate emission trading, saving industry and government time and money,\" EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman said in a statement. \"The cap and trade approach has already proven to be extremely successful in air pollution control, and today\'s online breakthrough will make it even better,\" she added. In the EPA\'s cap and trade emissions program, a trading unit is called an allowance and is equivalent to 1 ton of air emissions. The EPA\'s tracking systems, which currently hold allowances worth more than $20 billion, record transfers of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. The cap and trade programs reduce air pollution by setting a permanent cap on emissions, then allowing trading within that cap. The EPA requires companies that want to trade the pollutants to keep detailed records and to pay fees to the federal government is emissions exceed the legal limit. The EPA said its program for trading sulfur oxides has cut emissions by 6 million tons annually from 1980 at a cheaper cost to industry. That program is being expanded. The agency\'s program for trading nitrogen oxide has reduced emissions by more than 50 percent from 1990, it said. The program may expand to as many as 19 states in 2004. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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