HARRISBURG, Pa. (June 24, 2019) ─ On June 21, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency posted its evaluation of Pennsylvania’s draft Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan, saying it comes up 36 percent short in achieving its nitrogen reduction goal.
“The Phase III WIP efforts should be focused on identifying programs and opportunities that will help Pennsylvania achieve its targets,” EPA’s report stated. “Pennsylvania should consider development, enhancement and implementation of the following initiatives: partnering with NGOs on voluntary conservation; market-based approaches; pay-for-performance approaches; public-private partnerships; and improving regulatory compliance.”
Pennsylvania Senate Bill 575, presently under consideration, enables on a voluntary basis much of what EPA has recommended, including market-based solutions that incentivize the private sector to partner with the state on a pay-for-performance basis, with opportunities for small farms to receive payment for voluntary conservation.
Senate Bill 575 also creates a competitive bidding program to procure low-cost nutrient and sediment reductions from both public and private sources. Participation is voluntary. The legislation:
- Requires that bidders be qualified and that the projects be financed through private-sector sources. In essence, the taxpayer will have zero financial exposure since the winning bidders will only be paid for reductions after they have been certified by the Department of Environmental Protection.
- Enables Pennsylvania to buy verified environmental reductions to meet its Chesapeake Bay targets, using the same transparent competitive bidding approach it uses to buy the many other commodities it requires. Today, verified nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment reductions can be purchased as measurable commodities and paid for once delivered and accepted.
A bipartisan study by the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee projected that such an approach would reduce Chesapeake Bay compliance costs by as much as 90 percent. Senate Bill 575 is consistent with EPA recommendations; will significantly reduce nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment to both local Pennsylvania freshwater resources and the Chesapeake Bay; and will dramatically reduce costs to Pennsylvania taxpayers.
The Coalition for Affordable Bay Solutions urges the state Legislature to pass Senate Bill 575 and its companion, House Bill 1642.
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The Coalition for Affordable Bay Solutions is a nonprofit advocacy group formed to support the creation of a competitively bid procurement program for nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) reductions in Pennsylvania. To learn more, visit www.affordablebaysolutions.org.
Media Contact: David La Torre, firstname.lastname@example.org