Cap-and-trade could reach households

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: Today, the U.S. House will spend its Earth Day debating a plan to limit greenhouse gases. From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Jennifer Collins reports on how much this is going to cost you.


Jennifer Collins: Eight hundred dollars a year. John Reilly of MIT calculated that's how much a cut in emissions would tax the average household.

John Reilly: I mean there will be costs of achieving these targets.

The target is an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over 40 years. To do that, House lawmakers have proposed a cap-and-trade program -- It would limit emissions and then allow corporations and utilities to trade the right to pollute. The costs would then be passed on to households.

Reilly: As a result of those higher costs of energy, consumers might insulate their houses or other sorts of things.

And that should offset some of the expense over the long run.

Steven Hayward is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute:

Steve Hayward: It's very hard to say what this will cost, because crucial details are still to be determined.

Hayward thinks the MIT estimate is in the ballpark. Still, the highest price of all could result from doing nothing to try to slow climate change. Some experts say unchecked emissions could cost the world trillions of dollars a year.

I'm Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

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