USDA Funds Effort To Cool Northwest Streams With Credit Trading

Aug 24, 2012

Two Oregon conservation groups have a new idea for cooling down streams. Their plan is similar to the credits used to offset carbon emissions. And today, the federal government is backing the plan with a grant. Amelia Templeton of Earthfix explains.

In many of the streams in the Northwest the water is too warm for salmon and other native fish.

The Freshwater Trust and Willamette Partnership have proposed a credit market to reduce what they call temperature pollution.

Here’s how it works: A power plant that releases hot water into a river could buy a thermal credit from the Freshwater Trust. In exchange the Trust would pay farmers to plant trees along the river, to cool the water.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says the credits could improve water quality and provide income to farmers.

Vilsack: “So we’re providing $1.5 million to expand this concept to Idaho and Washington to be used by power companies, wastewater treatment facilities, and others.”

In theory, companies that participate in the program could buy thermal credits as an alternative to installing cooling systems required federal law.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio