Water Quality Trading an Oregon Failure

NWEA has just released an extensive letter from Executive Director, Nina Bell, to Region 10 of the U.S. EPA, dated July 17, 2014, that examines Oregon’s water quality trading program. In the letter, Ms. Bell details the many deficiencies plaguing the Oregon program that have undermined its structural integrity, robust safeguards, and administrative independence. Specifically, the letter points to three main areas of major concern:

  • the Oregon program is driven by economics not environmental outcomes;
  • permits are riddled with ambiguity; and
  • issues of uncertainty have not been addressed.

In the letter, Ms. Bell tells Dan Opalski, Director of EPA’s Office of Water and Watersheds, that “[t]he current disarray serves neither permittees in need of a consistent and reliable agency approach nor the public that requires assurance Oregon’s program is consistent with EPA trading policy and federal permitting regulations.” Ms. Bell calls on Mr. Opalski to address these issues with Oregon through a formal rulemaking process rather than the current “closed-door process with Oregon, Washington and Idaho and two vested-interest non-profit organizations.”

For more information visit NWEA’s Water Quality Trading page also see U.S. EPA’s Water Quality Trading