EPA Updates Trading Policy to Provide Additional Flexibility, Spur Adoption

epa-tweet-01-ap-jrl-180502_hpEmbed_3_3x2_992(February 12, 2019) - Top officials in EPA’s Office of Water are looking to jump-start work on market-based programs, including water quality trading, in an effort to address nutrient-related and other types of water pollution across the country.

David Ross, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water, issued a memorandum on February 6 to the Regional Administrators for the Agency’s ten regional offices “updating” EPA policy on water quality trading, and outlining six “Market-Based Principles” that are intended to facilitate broader adoption of such programs.  According to the memo, the Agency’s original Water Quality Trading Policy, issued in 2003, “has not facilitated the widespread adoption of water quality trading…[and] the Agency now believes that the 2003 Policy may be too prescriptive to be widely effective and implementable.”

While the Agency stopped short of repealing and replacing the 2003 Policy, the memo is intended to “clarify and expand the range of policy options available for states, tribes and stakeholders to consider,” and provides more flexibility in key areas, including banking of credits and implementation of baselines.

While focused on trading, the memo also encourages market-based programs more broadly, as well as “other collaborative approaches to achieving water quality improvements, including… coordinated point/nonpoint pollution reduction or offset projects,” an area that NACWA continues to pursue with EPA, USDA and national agriculture groups.

NACWA will be participating in an upcoming meeting hosted by EPA and USDA on addressing nutrient control efforts, as well as a planned forum on financing nutrient control work.  EPA will be hosting a webinar on March 5, 2019 to further discuss this work. To participate send an email to nutrients@epa.gov.  Members with questions can contact Chris Hornback, NACWA’s Deputy CEO.