SwampGate: Purchasing nutrients from a wetland bank prohibited by EEP's own rules

As an informational update on the brewing controversy concerning the state paying twice for work done once, “Stories from the Field” offers a snippet from the EEP‘s own rule book.  The rule specifically and unequivocally prohibits the dual use of a single mitigation site for wetland and nutrient mitigation, as was done at least once by a private contractor, and perhaps many times by the rule maker themselves:

Ecosystem Enhancement Program:
“Policies, Process, and Procedures Manual,” May 4, 2008

2.0 DEFINITIONS AND PROJECT REQUIREMENTS TO GENERATE RIPARIAN BUFFER MITIGATION CREDITS.

2.9 Wetland and Buffer Mitigation. Wetland mitigation may not overlap with riparian buffer mitigation. When wetland mitigation is implemented in a riparian zone using buffer restoration techniques that could also generate riparian buffer mitigation, a decision must be made as to which type of credit will be claimed from the project. A specific area on a project can generate either wetland mitigation credits or riparian buffer mitigation credits. Portions of a project can be designated as generating riparian buffer mitigation credits and portions generating wetland credit, but these areas cannot overlap.

2.10 Nutrient Offset and Buffer Mitigation. Nutrient offset mitigation is required to be stand alone mitigation in order to generate nutrient offset mitigation. Any area being used for nutrient offset mitigation cannot be used to generate stream, wetland, or buffer mitigation credits. Similarly any area being used to generate riparian buffer mitigation credits cannot be used to generate nutrient offset mitigation.

SwampGate: News and Observer busts EBX for hitting the punch bowl twice

Quite a find on my porch this morning. The state’s paper of record revealed a long-stewing controversy in the obscure but important world of compensatory environmental mitigation policy.  [EBX paid twice for wetlands work, December 8, 2009]  RS’ principal competitor, Environmental Bank and Exchange (EBX), sold nutrient mitigation credits to the North Carolina Ecosystem Enhancement Program subsequent to the site being banked, restored and previously paid for by the North Carolina Department of Transportation for wetland mitigation credit.  In industry parlance —  we call this a “double-dip.”

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RS assists in National Survey of Mitigation Bankers

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The indispensible Ecosystem Marketplace published a second story in a week involving RS.  (Here is the first). This one is a lot drier, but also filled with consequence for and insight into the emerging markets for compensatory mitigation and ecosystem services (a term for another blog).

When I get a chance, I will blog some about the background of the survey, it’s conclusions, and the propects for its continuation.  But, for now, I just wanted to share the link below, and recognize Ecosystem Marketplace for their coverage of these important issues as they develop.

The Katoomba Group's Ecosystem Marketplace

Mitigation Bankers Say New Rule Heightens Old Conflicts: Survey

by Todd BenDor, J. Adam Riggsbee, and George Howard

About the Survey

This article has been adapted from the Executive Summary of A National Survey of Federal Mitigation Regulations and their Impacts on Wetland and Stream Banking. You can download the full report, including the executive summary, above.

It’s been more than a year since the United States enacted uniform procedures for
offsetting lost wetlands across the country, but market participants say “The Rule” has neither calmed the conflicts it was designed to eradicate nor driven business to mitigation banks. The reason, they say, is that regulators are as regionally inconsistent as ever.

20 November 2009 | When the US Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers released their long-awaited regulations for offsetting lost wetlands in March of last year, everyone seemed to agree that “the Rule” – as the regulations are collectively and colloquially known – would encourage the expansion of mitigation banking to provide compensatory mitigation for unavoidable impacts to the nation’s

wetlands.

Webinar: New Mitigation Rule Compliance for the NC Fee Program

nceep_weblogo

This should be interesting:

Dear Colleagues:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wilmington District, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the N.C. Ecosystem Enhancement Program invite your participation in a Webinar on Dec. 16, 2009 at 10:00 a.m.  The purpose of the Webinar is to provide the latest status of EEP’s conversion to the new federal mitigation rule, including the review of specific provisions of the draft instrument.

If you wish to participate in the Webinar, you must register your interest with EEP by Dec. 7.  Participants will be sent information on how to access the meeting via the Internet and telephone.  To sign up, please send an email to Eric Ellis of EEP (eric.ellis@ncdenr.gov) by Dec. 7, and please feel free to share this announcement with others that you think would be interested.

Tad Boggs

Director of Communications

N.C. Ecosystem Enhancement Program

919-715-2227 www.nceep.net

Video: "George" Double-Dipping

When is Credit Stacking a Double Dip?
The issue of reusing a restored environmental asset will come up again and again as new environmental markets emerge.
by Alice Kenny