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...

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