Pollution Swap

Utility companies trade rights to help reduce acid rain

CAPITALISM HAS CREATED MARKETS FOR SOME BIzarre products: pet rocks, pieces of the Beatles' hotel bed linens, even Edsels. But last week a market to amaze even Adam Smith opened up: the buying and selling of the right to pollute, which proves that anything anyone wants to buy will be sold.

One of the nation's cleanest utility companies, Wisconsin Power & Light, agreed to sell pollution "credits" to two other companies, among them one of the nation's dirtiest utilities, the Tennessee Valley Authority. This innovative, market-based deal, made possible under the 1990 Clean Air Act, will allow T.V.A. and the Duquesne...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!