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Council considering going green to make green

It is a trading system that supporters say has the potential to usher in a new popular commodity, while at the same time encouraging cleaner air and environmental responsibility. It has also generated considerable buzz locally over how it could be successfully implemented.

At the Nov. 17 meeting of Common Council's Economic Development and Environment Committee, members considered the merits of proposed legislation that would authorize the city to enter into an agreement with Forecon, Inc., a forestry and natural resources company to study the possibility of trading credits in exchange for lowering carbon emissions.

Under the proposal before the Common Council, the city would look into the possibility of trading on the Chicago Climate Exchange.

"It's a very interesting concept," said Councilor Kathleen Joy, who chairs the committee and is sponsoring the agreement.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a carbon trading system works when entities involved promise to cap their emissions. The groups can get permits to trade, and those that aren't sufficiently cleaning up are allowed to buy credits from groups that do a sufficient job in adhering to their goal.

This system is known as "cap and trade," and at the federal level has won the support of both President-elect Barack Obama and members of Congress, notably Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) who on Nov. 20 said she will introduce environmental legislation next year to establish such a system nationally, according to TheHill.com.

According to Dennis Brogan, director of public affairs and neighborhood services for the city, the heart of the proposal for removing carbon is a 216-acre, city-owned parcel of land within the city limits known as the Rand Tract. He said that it is made up of second-growth forest, land that was originally stripped of its forestation but has since returned to much of its old state.

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