"People now call that system "cap-and-trade." But back then the term of art was "emissions trading"....The basic premise of cap-and-trade is that government doesn't tell polluters how to clean up their act. Instead, it simply imposes a cap on emissions....
Despite powerful resistance, these allies got the system adopted as national law in 1990 to control the power plant pollutants that cause acid rain. With the help of federal bureaucrats willing to violate the cardinal rule of bureaucracy—by surrendering regulatory power to the marketplace—emissions trading would become one of the most spectacular success stories in the history of the green movement. Congress is now considering whether to expand the system to cover the carbon dioxide emissions implicated in climate change—a move that would touch the lives of almost every American. So it's worth looking back at how such a radical idea first got translated into action, and what made it work....
Getting all this to work in the real world required a leap of faith. The opportunity came with the 1988 election of George H.W. Bush. EDF president Fred Krupp phoned Bush's new White House counsel—Boyden Gray—and suggested that the best way for Bush to make good on his pledge to become the "environment president" was to fix the acid rain problem, and the best way to do that was by using the new tool of emissions trading. Gray liked the marketplace approach, and even before the Reagan administration expired, he put EDF staffers to work drafting legislation to make it happen. The immediate aim was to break the impasse over acid rain. But global warming had already registered as front page news for the first time that sweltering summer of 1988; according to Krupp, EDF and the Bush White House both felt from the start that emissions trading would ultimately be the best way to address this much larger challenge."...
EDF cheers sulfate removal via cap and trade: .
."Our cap-and-trade plan to reduce acid rain cut sulfur dioxide emissions in half, at a fraction of the expected costs."
George Bush #1 signs Clean Air Act amendments in 1990, making rules stricter than 1970 and 1977 versions. Top left, clapping, Bush EPA chief William Reilly, plucked from his job as WWF president by Bush.