MUSKOGEE, Okla. — An advisory panel representing four northwestern Arkansas municipalities shelved a proposed nutrient trading program for the Illinois River watershed.
The decision was made after proponents of the program failed to muster unanimous support, which was required before it could be forwarded to state regulators for final approval and adoption. Fayetteville, Arkansas, city councilors opposed Regulation 37, which was described by critics as vague "by design."
Regulation 37, authorized by a law passed in 2015 by the Arkansas Legislature at about the same time data from a stressor-response study of streams within the Illinois River Basin was being analyzed.
The Northwest Arkansas Nutrient Trading Research Advisory Group, made up of an association of professionals from four northwest Arkansas municipalities, was formed by the time that study was completed. The panel began accepting public comments in January 2018 for the proposed nutrient trading program dubbed Regulation 37.
Nutrient trading programs allow polluters unable to meet standards to buy offsets, or credits, from polluters who emit less than what their permits allow. This results with a theoretical reduction of pollutants introduced to the environment.