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January 6, 2010

Cap and Trade Legislation for Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Public Health Benefits From Air Pollution Mitigation

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.

JAMA. 2010;303(1):69-70. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1955

Legislation to cap and trade greenhouse gas emissions was approved by a 219-212 vote of the US House of Representatives on June 26, 20091 (counterpart legislation passed through the Environment and Public Works Committee in the Senate on November 5, 2009). Cap and trade policy articulated in the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act of 20091 regulates greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and nitrogen trifluoride. Debate over the ACES Act focused heavily on economic issues contrasted against concerns about climate change.2 However, discussion largely ignored the potential for cap and trade legislation to contribute to reductions in levels of other harmful air pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and ozone precursors, which share emission sources with greenhouse gases.