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News Release

WQ Trading Program

USDA Awards Conservation Innovation Grant to Electric Power Research Institute

For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Office of Communications, (202) 720-4623

Cincinnati, Ohio, August 9, 2012 - USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Harris Sherman today announced that the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) will receive a Conservation Innovation Grant for $1 million to further development of its Ohio River Basin Pilot Water Quality Trading Program.  Sherman gave remarks at an event in Cincinnati, Ohio, where EPRI and partners announced the kickoff of the program.

At the event, the States of Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio signed onto a plan to launch interstate water quality pilot trades in the Ohio River Basin in 2012. Water quality trading is a market-based approach that enables facilities facing high pollution control costs to buy reduction credits from entities with lower costs such as farmers who implement conservation practices on their land. The goal is to achieve water quality improvements more efficiently.

"USDA is proud to be a long-standing collaborator with EPRI in advancing water quality trading in the Ohio River Basin," Sherman said. "The grant we are announcing today will help EPRI develop a user-friendly credit registry to continue development of this groundbreaking effort."

USDA provided funding to EPRI in 2009 and 2011 to enable the development of the interstate trading program.  The pilot trading announced today is expected to include at least three power plants or other participants and up to 50 farms implementing agricultural conservation best management practices on up to 20,000 acres.

"USDA believes water quality trading holds great promise for agricultural producers in the Ohio River Basin," Sherman said. "We look forward to seeing how this program will benefit water quality, agricultural production and communities in the years to come."

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers CIG as part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Grants are awarded to state and local governments, federally recognized Indian tribes, non-governmental organizations and individuals. NRCS uses CIG to invest in innovative, on-the-ground conservation technologies and approaches with the goal of wide-scale adoption to address water quality and quantity, air quality, energy conservation, and environmental markets, among other natural resource issues.  





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