For Immediate Release

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Rich Bindell, Food & Water Watch, 202-683.2457,

Cashing Out Our Clean Air and Water with Pollution Trading

New Food & Water Watch Issue Brief Documents Pay-to-Pollute Programs That Undermine Proven Regulations

WASHINGTON - The national consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch released an issue brief today that describes a growing trend to reduce air and water pollution using market-driven credits to control pollutants. Pollution Trading: Cashing Out Our Clean Air and Water documents government-sanctioned pollution reduction programs that provide a market place for trading credit allotments in an effort to offset harmful discharges. But these mechanisms don’t deter industrial pollution. In fact, they give companies an opportunity to pay and trade for the “right” to pollute.

Programs including the U.S. Acid Rain Program, Emissions Trading System, Regional Clean Air Incentives Market, Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load and the Renewable Fuel Standard Program, encourage polluting companies to trade emission allowances for nitrogen, air quality, carbon, nutrient water, and renewable fuel identification numbers in the spirit of decreasing industrial pollution. But these cap-and-trade methods deter companies from upgrading equipment and technology, and complying with regulatory guidelines designed to decrease the amount of pollutants and toxic discharges into our environment.

Many of these pay-to-pollute programs have yet to prove they are successful in decreasing the amount of air and water pollution. In some cases, the programs contain loopholes that allow for the creation of fraudulent credits, giving some companies the ability to earn credits without actually reducing emissions.


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“We’ve moved away from regulations that actually work, and instead we’ve adopted a pay-to-pollute trading system that actually rewards companies without requiring them to decrease their emissions,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Instead of investing in improved technology and methodology that could reduce our harmful discharges, we’ve created a trading scheme fraught with fraud and liability issues.”

Pollution Trading: Cashing Out Our Clean Air and Water available here.


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Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

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