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August 24th, 2012

Seven Million Taxpayer Dollars Down the Drain

By Mitch Jones

Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it is awarding over $7 million in grants to organizations and state agencies across the country to develop water quality trading, or cap-and-trade for nitrogen and phosphorous pollution. Under the guise of controlling pollution, the government is actually trying to give people the option of buying and selling the “right” to pollute.

This is a complete waste of taxpayer dollars.

Water quality trading is nothing new, although the government is pushing to make it the dominant way that we try to control pollution in our waterways. In fact, over the past 20 years, few if any trading schemes have delivered positive results. Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc., the trade industry for the poultry industry in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, knows the real effect of water quality trading. In their June 2010 newsletter, they described the idea as “a program … to help farmers earn money while providing polluters with the opportunity to increase their pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.” And taxpayers subsidize it all. 

Water quality trading is really just a way for the government to avoid regulating pollution in our waterways while turning over its responsibilities to financial interests. Wall Street bankers are looking for new opportunities to create big bonuses for themselves, and they are turning their sights to our common resources. In awarding $7 million to help make this possible, the USDA is selling out our resources to the Wall Street casino. If you like what they did with the housing market, just wait ‘til you see what they do with our water. 

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