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«January 2012 SENIOR SCIENTISTS AND POLICYMAKERS FOR THE BAY NUTRIENT TRADING SUBCOMMITTEE Nutrient Trading Preliminary Investigation: Findings and ...»

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Environmental justice principles reveal that those economically disadvantaged already suffer lopsided consequences of onerous environmental practices. Allowing these practices to continue unabated by allowing perpetrators to pay fees to credit marketers or aggregators elsewhere only perpetuates an existing disparity and provides a 7 | www.bayactionplan.com marketplace that sanctions disparity for economic gain. Communities suffering the impact of onerous environmental problems should share, as a matter of equity, the economic and ecological benefits of the regulatory activity that seeks to address those impairments.

If any compounds beyond nutrients and sediments are considered for trading (e.g., toxins, endocrine disrupters), serious consideration of the environmental justice issues will need to be made.

7) TRADING COULD BENEFIT LARGE ORGANIZATIONS AND

CORPORATIONS WITHOUT PROTECTING THE INTERESTS OF LOCAL

WATERWAYS AND GRASSROOTS ENTITIES.

Trading should not sanction Clean Water Act violations or non-abatement of ongoing violations of Federal or State water quality protection laws. Most nutrient trades are likely to be advanced by business interests or municipalities concerned primarily with economic considerations. Meanwhile small local and grassroots champions of water quality are much more likely to be concerned about local impacts of trading and how such trades will accrue to better water quality in their communities and waterways as opposed to economic development or even Chesapeake Bay considerations. These local groups may not have the resources to be parties to these trades. Trading programs provide an additional tool for regulators and for polluters but there is the risk of creating a scenario that greatly undermines the tributary teams, the Waterkeepers and other local watershed advocacy groups. Providing the option of trading in lieu of compliance would greatly hinder the opportunity for citizens to engage, overhaul or intervene in problematic or unjust trades. For example, allowing violations of wastewater treatment plant discharges by purchasing nutrient credits could lead to localized “hot spots” while reductions are made elsewhere, potentially in another watershed. For these reasons, trading geographies must be carefully analyzed and chosen, and robust independent and transparent third party oversight is needed that includes the active participation of local watershed groups and citizenry in overall program performance audit and credit stewardship/annual verification and certification. The oversight “authority” may be best provided by a public/private partnership as opposed to leaving it in the realm of public agencies subject to changing political, industry interest and economic development pressures. In addition, water quality standards for local waterways or narrative criteria for “swimmable and fishable” conditions would help develop objective criteria for nutrient trading.

8) THE TOTAL IMPACTS OF NUTRIENT TRADES NEED TO BE

MEASURED AND ADEQUATE COMPENSATION PROVIDED.

Various development activities may have multiple impacts that transcend the impacts from nutrients and sediments. For example, even though the construction of wastewater treatment facilities can vastly reduce nutrient pollution (e.g. septic to small WWTP), www.bayactionplan.com | 8 nonetheless this still creates impacts (e.g., loss of riparian vegetation, increased impervious surfaces with associated runoff) that can lead to deleterious impacts. These multiple impacts provide another reason to have adequate compensation ratios. Some Best Management Practices have highly variable application efficiencies which lead to divergent nutrient results and nutrient credits need to reflect the actual nutrient savings.

For example, transport of animal manure can be highly variable and difficult to assign credit. The length of time and conditions that animal manure is stored and the distance that it is transported will affect the nutrient removal efficiency. In Pennsylvania, credits appear to be provided inversely to the logical agronomic use and practices that were the worst are given more credit, i.e. if an agricultural operation previously incorporated manure within two days to maximize nutrient efficiency they receive fewer credits for manure export than an operation that allowed manure to sit in the field and release nutrients to the environment. Also, manure transport does not properly account for ammonia volatilization rates, potential for redeposition within the Chesapeake Watershed, or the nitrogen emissions from the vehicles transporting the manure. A more rigorous mass-balance approach must be used when crediting all practices.

9. CREDITED PRACTICES AND THE AMOUNTS OF CREDITS AWARDEDNEED TO BE STANDARDIZED.

Discrepancies in the amount of credits awarded for different practices can lead to inequities across jurisdictional boundaries. Non-point source practices are particularly difficult to standardize (see recent PennFuture report) and highly variable crediting can undermine the nutrient trading program. The standardization, like the verification process, needs to be conducted by independent, third parties in a scientifically rigorous manner. This standardization of nutrient credits should not curtail innovation and creativity of nutrient reduction practices.

10: “GROWTH ALLOCATIONS” REPRESENT AN UNMITIGATED

GIVEAWAY OF POLLUTION AND SHOULD BE ELIMINATED OR,

RECOGNIZING THE POLITICAL DIFFICULTY IN WITHDRAWING AN

ALLOCATION PREVIOUSLY AWARDED, SEVERELY CURTAILED.

In order for a market system to function effectively, a firm pollution cap needs to be put in place, and growth allocations effectively extend that cap date well into the future, harming the development of the market. The granting of extra pollution capacity to wastewater treatment plants should be based on demonstrated pollution reductions in other sectors, and should not be granted on speculative, proposed reductions in those sectors.

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