|Action||Promulgate new Nutrient Trading Certification Regulations|
|Comment Period||Ends 5/30/2019|
May 30, 2019
Ms. Debra Harris
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
1111 East Main Street, Suite 1400
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, Virginia 23218
As a member of the Virginia Mitigation Banking Association, I fully and strongly support the comments submitted by the Association.
In addition, on behalf of Restoration Systems, I wish to further emphasize my support for comments pertaining to two specific proposed regulatory actions.
"Management Area” (Proposed (VAC25-900-10)
There is simply no need to define the Management Area to be so expansive and onerous for the nutrient credit generator, project, and/or land owner. The current process for defining the applicable area of the nutrient generating project has worked well, created a vibrant credit market, and resulted in no adverse water quality or other issues that warrant correcting. Moreover, 100s of millions of dollars have been provided through state and federal cost-share programs to agricultural landowners over the past several decades to reduce nutrient run-off without parallel restrictions on the area of application for those practices. Placing such onerous restrictions on the management area are unnecessary and counter-productive for several reasons, including 1) they would dissuade future practitioners from participating in the program, 2) the propsoed definition is grossly unbalanced compared to how the applicable project area is defined for existing agricultural cost-share programs, and 3) the proposed definition is not warranted based on any documented problems with how the applicable project area is defined under the existing nutrient credit offset program. The determination of the Management Area must remain as currently implemented under the existing program.
Proposed phased release of credits from land conversion. (Proposed sections 9VAC25-900-90 B and 9VAC25-90-120 C and D)
One of the biggest incentives to the current Nutrient Offset Program, especially as it differs from Section 404 Wetland and Stream mitigation programs, is the full up-front release of credits. If there has been any degree of documented adverse impacts from the exisiting release schedule, then an adjustment, possibly with a phased-release, would be warranted. However, no such adverse impacts have been demonstrated. Implementing a phased release schedule, simply for the perceived benefit of providing an additional layer of protection, with no justified need, would do nothing but hamper the continued expansion and benefit of the program while providing no additional benefit or protection to natural resources. The release of credits from land conversion must remain as currently implemented under the existing program.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide comment on the proposed draft regulation.