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Creating pollution is often cost-free and getting rid of it can be costly, so no wonder humans generate so much. The “market based solution” (i.e., channeling humanity’s endless greed) is either to make pollution expensive, which is the idea of fines and mandates, or to make cleaning it up profitable.

Vermont has created an interesting version of the latter with a new Pay For Phosphorus program, which gives farmers $100 for each pound of phosphorus that they don’t release into the environment (usually from fertilizer).

Agricultural runoff is a real problem in lakes and ponds but farmers have little economic incentive to reduce it.

Vermont Public Radio has a story here, which notes “The state will use a combination of modeling and farm visits to make sure the reductions are being delivered.”

It’s can be pretty difficult to ensure that don’t-do-damage practices are being followed – it’s always easier to ensure that something is being created rather than not being created.

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