What is the cost of pollution? In the near future, the greenhouse gases that are produced by major companies, may be priced, sold, and traded like stock. This industry could drastically affect the national economy.
As soon as this summer, Congress could vote on a "cap-and-trade" system that would limit carbon emissions produced by big companies. Under such a system, the amount of allowable emissions from each produced is limited, and companies that produce more or less gases could buy or sell carbon "credits."
The next president will likely support such a plan, because all three of the major candidates have said that they favor the cap-and-trade system. Already, some of the country is starting similar plans. In the Northeast, power plants in 10 states will face regional carbon cap-and-trade rules beginning next year. In California a system could affect virtually all companies by 2012. Europe already has a plan, and it is now being expanded.
Already, major companies such as Nike Inc. and Dell Inc. have voluntarily agreed to go "carbon neutral," for public relations reasons and also to get ahead of the game. Some cities, such as Austin, Texas, have pledged to make their municipal operations "carbon neutral," also.