Idaho Considers Water Quality Trading
EPA recently approved Idaho as the 47th state to run its NPDES permit program. The state still has to comply with a recent 9th Cir. order to fix its criminal mens rea problem to cement in the program authorization (see my Sept. 13 blogpost). But assuming that happens, according to the article below from the Capital Press, Idaho is moving quickly to make it easier to set up water quality trading. Idaho is a big ag state with huge ag impacts to water quality, especially from nutrients. Because almost all of those ag discharges are nonpoint source and not regulated under the CWA, there's great potential to do trades.
As I've written in the past (see attached article below), effluent trading can be a good thing if done correctly. It appears that Idaho is only in the earliest stages of considering the move, and it remains to be seen how the program will be set up and administered. I helped negotiate one of the first trades in the country when I was at EPA, and it's not an easy task. The CWA is not set up to allow trading. So it will be interesting to see how Idaho proposes to set up trading in a way that complies with the act and avoids the ire of the environmental groups, who will certainly be watching.
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