For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Michele Merkel, Food & Water Watch, 202-683-4967

On Pollution Trading in the Chesapeake: Congress Should Hear Both Sides of the Story

Statement from Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter

WASHINGTON - “The Water and Wildlife Subcommittee of U.S. Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee is holding a hearing today to hear witnesses testify about water quality trading in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) presiding as Chair. We are disappointed to note that the witness list included only pro-trading advocates and will be told only one side of the story.

“While Sen. Cardin has been a great champion for the Chesapeake Bay, as well as one of the biggest proponents of the Clean Water Act, it is ironic promoting trading will unravel the Clean Water Act. If Sen. Cardin and the Congress truly want to learn more about pollution trading, we would hope that they would at least consider arguments from both sides.

“Pollution trading violates the fundamental concept that the Clean Water Act is built upon, which is that pollution is illegal and industries don’t have a right to poison our shared waterways. The “pay-to-pollute” trading program allows financial middlemen to identify and purchase nitrogen and phosphorus “credits” from industrial agriculture operations in the watershed that attest to reducing their pollution levels in the future. These unverifiable credits are then aggregated and bundled together, and sold to power plants, wastewater treatment plants and other “point source” polluters who are either unable or simply unwilling to meet their CWA permit limits.

“Many states have tried to implement nutrient trading schemes around the country, but there is no documented, successful nonpoint-to-point source trading program implemented in any watershed in the United States.”


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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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