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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 23, 2008 at 4:00 PM

Pollution permit giveaway

Sell them instead

By planning to give away free pollution permits in her cap-and-trade program, Gov. Christine Gregoire is missing a huge opportunity to invest in Washington’s economy and learn from those who have come before us [“Governor favors mostly free permits for polluters,” Politics & Government,” Dec. 13].

The governor should be commended for moving legislation forward to reduce global warming. Strong climate policy will strengthen Washington’s economy and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. However, giving permits away for free is a huge mistake.

In Europe’s cap-and-trade program, they found that even though businesses were given pollution permits for free, they still raised prices and sold the permits, resulting in massive windfall profits at the expense of consumers. To remedy this, the EU [European Union] has announced its plans to move toward 100 percent auction.

Similarly, America’s first cap-and-trade program that started in the Northeast this year will auction just about all of their pollution permits, investing the new revenue in energy efficiency and clean renewable energy.

And just recently, California announced its plans to auction all pollution permits when it implements the Western Climate Initiative.

The governor should move forward with her pollution-reduction plan and the Washington Legislature should adopt it. But it needs to be a plan that builds on those already in existence and auctions the right to pollute.

Auctioning pollution permits will create new revenue that can be invested in growing the clean-energy economy in our state, creating thousands of well-paid, green-collar jobs and helping families already struggling with high energy costs.

— Joelle Robinson, Seattle

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