New York State hands industry licence to pollute

In its efforts to attract new industries to set up shop within its borders, New York State has surely come up with the most novel - and politically controversial - incentive of them all: permission to pollute.

The strategy, details of which only surfaced this week, will be seen either as policy gone mad or as a masterstroke by a state government trying to balance the demands for economic growth and environmental responsibility.

It is made possible by the existence already of so-called pollution credits that are traded for many thousands of dollars on the open market. The credits are the progeny of the Federal Clean Air Act of 1990 that first set limits on how much noxious material industrial plants could pump into the air.

The Act created a system that works like this: any company or state agency that successfully stays below the limits imposed upon it by the law is granted pollution credits as a reward for its efforts. Those credits can then be traded. The buyers are firms who can then use them to stay within the law rather than investing in modifying their plants actually to reduce emissions.

Now the administration of George Pataki, the Governor of New York, is dangling these credits in front of companies contemplating coming to the state and handing them over free. A glass-making factory has already established itself in the state thanks to a huge hand-out of these credits.

The revelation is bound to provoke angry reactions from environmentalists. Activists argue that once credits have been accumulated, they should be retired instead of sold in order to ensure further protection of the atmosphere.

The United States itself has been widely criticised for being too soft in enacting global agreements on curbing so-called greenhouse gas emissions, the foundations of which were laid at the United Nations Rio summit five years ago.

The notion of pollution credits is, in fact, at the core of proposals recently made by the Clinton administration to the UN, in advance of a summit on greenhouse gases to be held later in Kyoto, Japan. In this instance, environmentalist activists may like the proposal. It suggests offering credits to companies that go beyond what is required of them in cutting emissions in new plants in emerging industrial giants like China. In return, they would be spared the obligation to make modifications to factories at home in the US, which are probably reasonably efficient already.

Among leading brokerages of pollution credits is Cantor Fitzgerald in New York. Last month, its Environmental Brokerage Services set up a web site for the trading of pollution credits. Moreover, the firm pledged that it would purchase - and retire - one credit for a ton of polluting emissions for every visit made to the site.

Attention was turned recently to an upstate New York school that initiated a project to raise money for purchasing pollution credits, which were then retired. The students raised $24,000 (pounds 15,000) which paid for credits equivalent to the emission of 300 tonnes of sulphur dioxide.

Defending New York state's new policy, a spokesperson for the Empire State Development Corporation told the New York Times: "It was a unique and innovative idea. We try to make it easier for manufacturers to move to New York."

But the group Environmental Advocates countered: "It's disturbing that the state would turn around and give away pollution credits it has accumulated by reducing its own pollution emission. The state should be retiring them for public health."

Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Application Support Manager

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reigate...

Music Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

Maths Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

C# Developer - West Sussex - permanent - £40k - £50k

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments