In May 2010 the Federal Government adopted the Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed as directed by Executive Order 13508. The Executive Order Strategy identified environmental markets (for carbon sequestration, water quality, wetlands, and wildlife habitat) as an emerging, innovative tool for accelerating restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. While still in their infancy, environmental markets show promise for encouraging innovation and investment in conservation, improving accountability, reducing the costs of restoration, and expanding opportunities for landowners. The Strategy called on USDA and other federal agencies to help develop the infrastructure for environmental markets in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
OEM chairs the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Markets Team (CB EMT), a unique collaboration of over 12 different federal agencies working to enable environmental markets to function effectively in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The group also works to develop guidance and remove barriers to establishing markets for water quality and other ecosystem services. The CB EMT supports the missions of individual regulatory agencies as well as those encouraging voluntary conservation.
The CB EMT adopted the Charter for Federal Cooperation on Environmental Markets in 2010 to guide its work in response to the Executive Order Strategy.
The Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) completed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in December 2010 provides a driver for water quality credit trading as pollution is capped, new sources are offset, and current sources are reduced.
The CB EMT developed a discussion paper examining some of the issues and considerations regarding eligibility requirements for landowners, verification of environmental credits, and a report out of a recent environmental credit registry workshop.
The World Resources Institute (WRI) received a Conservation Innovation Grant in 2010 to develop a common platform to support water quality trading for agricultural participants in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The platform will include a credit registry, interactive farm mapping, a profit calculator, and a calculation tool for estimating on-farm nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment losses as well as carbon sequestration rates. OEM is working closely with WRI, NRCS, and Bay tributary states on this project. Visit NutrientNet for more information.