Behind the scenes, most states are exploring the benefits of carbon trading

By Emily Holden, Debra Kahn and Jeffrey Tomich, E&E Publishing.

Swaths of states are engaged in early regional talks about how to comply with U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan and whether to embrace carbon trading to keep costs down.

These "no regrets" discussions -- mostly coordinated by nongovernmental organizations -- offer a safe space for state air and electric regulators to share ideas and analyze how various paths forward might affect their power systems and economies.

Grid experts broadly agree that reducing nationwide greenhouse gas emissions would be cheaper if states that are short of their goals could purchase allowances or credits from states that can decarbonize at a lower cost. Even conservative states that have railed against cap and trade for years are looking at how those type of programs might be their best bet under the Clean Power Plan. But states are still working out the details.