Statement from Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter
Washington, D.C. — “Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the White House Council on Environmental Quality have mistakenly put their faith in a voluntary, market-based trading scheme in Virginia that will do little to actually reduce pollution. Our government agencies have relied on voluntary programs for agriculture to clean up the Bay and other waterways for 40 years, yet agriculture remains the number one source of nutrient pollution. Instead of relying on an unproven, voluntary nutrient credit trading program, EPA, USDA and the White House would be better off by implementing and enforcing laws that already exist, including the Clean Water Act.
“Food & Water Watch has reviewed similar nutrient trading programs in the Chesapeake Bay region and the Ohio River Basin. In every case, these schemes have allowed polluters to avoid compliance with the law while paying farmers for pollution reductions that are never properly verified. We expect the program in Virginia to be no different.”
“Pollution trading programs generally exist for two reasons. First, to allow purchasers of credits who are subject to technological mandates for pollution controls to evade the cost of those controls; and second, to create financial incentives for other polluters, in this case industrialized agriculture, to do what they should be doing anyways to reduce their own contribution to the Bay’s pollution problem. A major shortcoming of trading on the credit generating side is that it allows our political leaders, who lack the courage and will to properly regulate highly-polluting industries like agriculture, to continue to avoid doing what needs to be done, and that is to place mandatory controls on all sources of pollution. If the state were really serious about reducing nutrient pollution and cleaning up the Bay, then voluntary compliance would not be an option.
Background and Resources