EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced several new policy proposals at the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council meeting.
“EPA is proposing updates to our water quality trading policy that would help state and local partners take advantage of new technologies or develop market-based programs for improving water quality,” Wheeler said.
The action seeks comment on policy options related to one of the six market-based principles identified in EPA’s Feb. 6, 2019 Water Quality Trading Policy memo—encouraging simplicity and flexibility in implementing baseline concepts. The proposal seeks comment on approaches to clarify and provide flexibility for nonpoint sources to generate credits for use in water quality trading.
Under the Clean Water Act, water quality trading is an option for those seeking compliance with a discharge permit. Under trading programs, permitted facilities facing higher pollution control costs may be able to meet their regulatory obligations by purchasing environmentally equivalent (or superior) pollution reductions from other sources at lower cost. While EPA has long interpreted the Clean Water Act to allow for pollutant reductions from water quality trading, the practice has not been used to its fullest potential.
The public is invited to provide written comment on options that may help promote market-based approaches to water quality improvements. EPA will host a public meeting to facilitate discussion on this aspect of market-based programs, including water quality trading, that can be used to cost-effectively achieve water quality improvements.