Wisconsin has enacted Wisconsin Act 151, a bill that establishes a trading marketplace for pollution prevention.
The bill – co-authored by Sens. Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay), Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) and Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon) – allows for water-quality trades that allow nonpoint-source dischargers to create a reduction in total pollutants entering a waterbody, quantified as credits, to be purchased through a central clearinghouse. These credits will provide pollution-reduction relief to a point source such as a municipal wastewater treatment plant or cheese factory to comply with further ratcheted requirements of their wastewater permit. Trades would take place within the largest hydrologic area possible while still resulting in a water-quality improvement to the waterbody.
“This bill had the support of all the major agriculture, industry and conservation groups,” Kitchens said. “Whenever we can have these groups working together cooperatively to solve our water issues, you have an opportunity to make real progress.”
Cowles said, “By bringing more farmers to the table and incentivizing them to implement proven land-conservation strategies, coupled with the opportunity for industry to comply with permit requirements in a more cost-effective manner, this new law has the potential to make a positive impact on our state’s environment and economy.”