Utilities, Farmers, State Officials Launch Ohio River Water Quality Program

Utilities, Farmers, State Officials Launch Ohio River Water Quality Program
October 2, 2012

James M. Taylor

James M. Taylor is senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, and... (read full bio)

State officials in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio joined farmers and industrial facilities managers in signing a water quality trading project to promote clean water in the Ohio River. Under the voluntary program, the Ohio River Basin Water Quality Trading Project, farmers in the Ohio River Basin will implement cost-effective water quality measures in exchange for monetary credits paid by industrial facilities whose operations impede water quality.

Multi-Sector Involvement

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), an independent research institution funded by the electric utility industry, developed the program and secured commitments from regional power plants and other industrial facilities to participate in the project by purchasing water quality credits from farmers. American Farmland Trust President Jon Scholl called the plan a “win-win for utility companies, agriculture, and ultimately, consumers and the environment.”

Farmers will make water quality improvements through a variety of measures, including buffer zones around waterways and environmentally friendly cover crops that will scrub pollutants and excess nutrients from water runoff. 

An EPRI fact sheet on the Trading Project notes many factors diminish water quality, including wastewater treatment plants, urban stormwater, agriculture, and industrial activities. EPRI says its voluntary project will bring together the farmers and business entities that can have the greatest positive impact on Ohio River water quality. State officials in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio signaled their approval by signing on to the project.

Future Expansion

In addition to improving water quality in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio, the trading project will reduce excess nutrients downstream, including the lower Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. EPRI envisions expanding the program to include several states in those regions.

Remedy to EPA Overkill

“The myth spread by environmental activists and proponents of big government is we need to continually expand the powers of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to safeguard the environment. However, the Ohio River Basin Water Quality Trading Project shows individuals and the various states can and do implement effective environmental protection programs,” said Jay Lehr, science director for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News.

“States such as Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio have a vested interest in protecting their natural resources,” Lehr explained. “They also know better than Washington, DC bureaucrats what measures work best for their individual states. Environmental protection should be entrusted first and foremost to the individual states, with the federal EPA largely playing a supportive role.”

“The Ohio River Basin Trading Water Quality Trading Project promises to be much more cooperative, science-based, and effective than any program devised by the federal EPA,” Lehr concluded.

James M. Taylor (jtaylor@heartland.org) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

Internet Info:

Ohio River Basin Trading Project, Electric Power Research Institute, http://my.epri.com/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=423&mode=2&in_hi_userid=2&cached=true

James M. Taylor

James M. Taylor is senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, and... (read full bio)