Fairness in the Bay: Environmental Justice and Nutrient Trading

21 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2012 Last revised: 25 Sep 2012

See all articles by Rena I. Steinzor

Rena I. Steinzor

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law; Center for Progressive Reform

Robert R. M. Verchick

Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

Nicholas W. Vidargas

Center for Progressive Reform

Ling-Yee Huang

Independent

Date Written: August 1, 2012

Abstract

Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and other states in the Chesapeake Bay region, with support from the Environmental Protection Agency, are working toward developing water quality trading programs intended to help meet federal pollution limits for the Bay. This white paper from the Center for Progressive Reform warns that even if a trading system succeeds in reducing overall pollution in the Bay, it might still have a dire effect on low-income and minority communities in the Bay region.

If trading programs are not carefully designed and monitored, trading can cause localized concentrations of nutrients and accompanying contaminants in local waters, posing a significant threat to human health and aquatic ecosystems. For example, a sewage treatment plant could address its additional pollution by either purchasing reductions elsewhere or by installing control measures onsite. If the plant purchases credits, it will be able to discharge more sewage. These additional discharges may create “hot spots” or high concentrations of pollution in adjacent waterways that could expose residents of nearby communities, especially local fishermen and their families, to pathogens and other harmful co-pollutants.

Effective trading programs also rely on ample credit-generating activities. Municipalities may generate credits by implementing stormwater best management practices (BMPs) such as urban revegetation, bioswale construction, and greenspace expansion. These practices have secondary benefits for the communities in which those BMPs are implemented, including flood control, enhanced opportunities for exercise and recreation, increased property values, and aesthetic value. Such benefits should be enjoyed equally, throughout the watershed.

Keywords: Nutrient Trading, CWA, Environmental Justice, Chesapeake Bay

Suggested Citation

Steinzor, Rena I. and Verchick, Robert R. M. and Vidargas, Nicholas W. and Huang, Ling-Yee, Fairness in the Bay: Environmental Justice and Nutrient Trading (August 1, 2012). U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-57. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2139116 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2139116

Rena I. Steinzor (Contact Author)

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law ( email )

500 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-1786
United States

Center for Progressive Reform ( email )

500 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
United States

Robert R. M. Verchick

Loyola University New Orleans College of Law ( email )

7214 St. Charles Ave., Box 901
Campus Box 901
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

Nicholas W. Vidargas

Center for Progressive Reform ( email )

455 Massachusetts Ave., NW, #150-513
Washington, DC 20001
United States
202.747.0698 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.progressivereform.org

Ling-Yee Huang

Independent

No Address Available

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