Pollution trading is being promoted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture as a way to prevent agricultural wastes from polluting our waterways. But it’s no solution at all. Pollution trading enables polluters to keep polluting and is not a proven way to limit harmful pollutants from entering our waterways. Pollution trading is built on several faulty premises. First, it’s a form of water privatization whereby our public trust is undermined. Second, it turns the notion that pollution is illegal and industries don’t have a right to poison our shared water and airsheds on its head. The Clean Water Act begins with the idea that it is illegal to pollute and as a nation we should strive to eliminate water pollution from our lakes, rivers and bays. Water pollution trading schemes are a disastrous substitute for proven means of regulating harmful chemical discharges into our waterways.
The EPA’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program, the current federal plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, is a pollution trading scheme that pays factory farms to keep polluting—when the real solution lies in common-sense regulations that limit agricultural pollution. The issue of wastes from factory farms could also be mitigated by addressing the unsustainable concentration of the poultry industry on the Eastern Shore, which benefits agribusiness, not family farmers or communities. A first step would be for the Farm Bill to rein in poultry processing companies that use unfair contracts to put the entire burden of managing chicken waste on poultry growers.
- The Bay TMDL: Questions & Answers
- Read the complaint here.
- Goodlatte-Holden Chesapeake Bay Bill Trades Away Bay Protections
- Food & Water Justice Program
- Bad Credit: How Pollution Trading Fails the Environment