|| Print ||
|Thursday, March 24, 2011|
A local environmental group is developing a market-based approach to the enduring challenge of conserving freshwater habitat.
Joe Whitworth, president of Portland-based The Freshwater Trust, said the new environmental market would assess monetary values to natural elements that improve river and stream habitat, similar to how carbon credits are used to offset environmental costs. The goal is to encourage the restoration of rivers and streams throughout the state without resorting to the usual legal battles.
Whitworth described the plan during a day-long forum at Portland State University organized around the theme of facing a future of climate change-related challenges through collaboration rather than harsh regulations and combative lawsuits.
Facing a room of farmers, water managers and ranchers who 15 years ago might have said unkind things about his efforts to protect salmon under the Endangered Species Act, Whitworth sheepishly echoed the atmosphere of collaboration when he said that “we have to get past our past in order to get to our future.”
One factor that Whitworth spoke to that has been a barrier to progress is the disconnect between the many governmental agencies that oversee matters of natural resource management. “There are only 16 ways to fix a river,” he joked, noting that in some cases you have to work with over a dozen different agencies on a given restoration project. “We needed a translator…to complete projects.”
In order to get past this hurdle and effectively develop an “Environmental Market,” The Freshwater Trust developed a software program called “StreamBank”that streamlines the permitting process and, according to Whitworth, cuts 70% of a given conservation project's completion time. The software acts as a sort of Turbo Tax for the permitting and monitoring of a project that allows restoration workers to make sure they meet regulatory demands. The photo above, provided by Freshwater Trust, shows a typical restoration project in Oregon.
Of Oregon’s 115,000 stream miles, 85,000 need help, Whitworth said. To meet restoration needs, he said that instead of building multi-million dollar cooling towers to cool treated water, businesses or municipalities that discharge into waterways could help plant trees along waterways to cool the water and improve native fish habitat. The Environmental Market, akin to a carbon trading market, would help do this by rewarding landowners for every “unit of good” they produce, units that could then be purchased by a business or municipality that discharges into a waterway to offset the habitat harming effects of dumping warm, treated water into river habitats.
Here’s a rough idea of how it would work:
Whitworth said that four pilot projects backed by United States Department of Agriculture loan guarantees are under development in different regions in the state and that he hopes that one day such a market-based solution to conservation could be scaled nationally. “This is going to happen…because we have the tools to make it happen,” he said.
Peter Beland is an associate writer for Oregon Business.
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
A Design Week panel discussion raises questions about how innovative we really are.
Thursday, October 02, 2014
More than 5,500 employees from 180 organizations throughout the state participated in the 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon project.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY JON BELL
Powell's stays relevant in the digital age.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
BY DIANE BUISMAN
Some common misconceptions employers have about marijuana.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
BY JASON NORRIS | OB CONTRIBUTOR
Each month for Oregon Business, we assess factors that are shaping current capital market activity—and what they mean to investors. Here we take a look at two major developments regarding possible rollbacks of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Friday, October 17, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
How can you move from a command-and-control leadership model to one of true empowerment and accountability? David Marquet did, and he took notes along the way.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE
Bans on genetically modified crops create uncertainty for farmers.
|A Complex Portrait: Immigration, Jobs and the Economy|
|Woman of Steel|
|Kill the Meeting|
|Mergers lucrative for departing CEOs, but not necessarily shareholders|
|Senators ask, but get no real answers regarding safety from air bag executives|
|Senate investigation says Wall Street misused commodities businesses|
|Amazon says its cloud services will run on renewable energy|
|Home building falls in October due to apartment sector|
|Dollar hits highest point against Yen since 2007|
|Investors wonder if OPEC cutback is imminent|
Is your business ready to join us in the call for action? This opening panel includes Oregon businesses who will discuss why they signed the Oregon Climate Declaration, the investments they are making to reduce carbon emissions, and how their actions are affecting their companies.
Get ready for two days of special events produced with the EPA, Portland Timbers and ISOS before and after the GoGreen Conference on October 16.
Plenty of employers seem “dazed and confused” after the recent vote to legalize marijuana. In light of Measure 91 passing, what are some issues for private-sector Oregon employers to consider?
Rotary’s Oregon Ethics in Business aims to raise consciousness about business ethics by honoring exceptional companies.
Barran Liebman’s annual employment law seminar is an industry classic.
Is my drug-free workplace policy up in smoke?
More than 400 "Change Makers" will gather to invest in a socially sustainable community.