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Lake Erie Water Quality Market

Paul Bohn, Esq.
Back in July 2015, I wrote a blog discussing a joint effort between Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces to address the dangerous levels phosphorous and nitrogen runoff that are causing massive algae blooms in Lake Erie. While the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) pledged a 40% reduction of algae blooms in Lake Erie by 2025, they did not discuss how they would achieve this.
Well, good news. The GLC has developed a plan to achieve their algae bloom reduction goal. The initiative will provide what's called a water quality trading system. It is a market-based approach to pollution reduction, in which the government sets an overall water pollution reduction requirement and then provides water quality credits that can be earned by entities for reducing pollution.
If properly implemented, a supply and demand for these credits will be created. Industries that are engaging in pollution reduction will stock-pile the credits, and then sell them to those who have high pollution reduction costs.
The proposed trading system will include most pollution sources contributing to runoff into Lake Erie. This includes farmers, sewage treatment plants, power plants, and factories. It is a great alternative to traditional pollution reduction methods that force each pollution source to install expensive new technology to reduce their own emissions.
Now, pollution sources will be able to determine if they are best served by becoming a buyer or seller of credits, based on their ability to adhere to the new regulatory requirements. The GLC believes this innovative approach will significantly reduce pollution runoff and thereby improve water quality in Lake Erie, what do you think?

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