Your recent article, Could Water Quality Trading Help Solve Ohio’s Nutrient Issue, asks if the Alpine Cheese pollution trading approach could work on a basin-wide scale. The answer is not very likely since it hasn’t even resulted in improvements in the small Sugar Creek into which the Alpine Cheese Factory dumps its pollution.
Instead of taking the word of pollution trading proponents who herald trading’s successes, just look at Ohio’s official list of polluted waters and you’ll find that Sugar Creek was listed as impaired when Alpine Cheese started buying nutrient pollution credits in 2006, and it’s still listed as impaired today, ten years later.
There is absolutely no evidence that nutrient pollution trading has resulted in water quality improvement anywhere in the country. What it has done is let industrial polluters, like Alpine Cheese, continue to dump their waste into our rivers without adhering to protective water quality limits.
If your readers want to see how the Alpine Cheese pollution trading program has really played out, see our report here: https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/sites/default/files/rpt_1510_waterqualitytrading-final2-web.pdf.
We’ve cleaned up many of our waterways the past 40 years by holding polluters accountable; it’s time to hold agriculture accountable for its pollution too, instead of inventing failed schemes that leave our waterways threatened and impaired.
Co-Director, Food & Water Justice Project, Food & Water Watch