Wisconsin Senate passes bill streamlining pollution credits system

MADISON — The Wisconsin Senate has overwhelmingly approved a bill designed to bolster the state's pollution credit-trading system.

The Senate approved the bill unanimously Wednesday, May 15. The bill would create a clearinghouse that supporters say would make it easier for large-scale polluters to trade credits with farmers.

Wisconsin law allows those who discharge pollutants directly into the environment to exceed allowable limits if they buy credits from those who pollute indirectly, like farmers.

Supporters say energizing the state's pollution-trading marketplace would save taxpayers the cost of upgrading public facilities to meet new phosphorus standards and give farmers a financial boost.

The credit-trading option was created in 1997 but hasn't caught on. The bill's authors say the measure could jump-start the credit marketplace, leading to better water quality.