Environmental Offsets

Environmental Offsets


This issue is a brief view of the EPA on environmental offsets which are used to defend natural surroundings. The first part represents the historical background of recent years, when government made first attempts to apply environmental offsets to life. I’d like illustrate environmental offsets on the example of U.S. Environment Protection Agency. It is a governmental institution, which develops new ways of environmental protection. This Agency worked out federal standard of water quality in the USA. This standard includes problems of manufacturing waters and sewage. Office of Waste Water Management tries to solve such problems. It supports technological measures and decisions, which contribute to improvement of water quality. OWM cooperates with the US EPA and succeeds in environmental maintenance. US EPA applies new technologies in order to mitigate chemical pollution (program “Superfund”), investigates impact of pesticides, analyses wetland territories. As well as in Australia and many other countries, US EPA develops different approaches on positive and negative sides of the environmental offsets. For example, “net conservation benefit” approach was introduced and developed by the EPA together with conservation agencies. It highlights the necessity of offsetting the conservation estates together with another suitable territory. It is supposed to contribute into the environmentally friendly activities.
The Environmental Protection Authority introduced a new plan of wetland banking. It is based on the regulation of credits given through a bank for the improvement of wetlands. In addition debits are provided for the degradation of these areas. Apart from this, nowadays different offset policies are being developed. One of them focuses clearing of native vegetation in order to reserve flora, fauna and ecology in general. This policy should be investigated in conformity with Environmental Protection Act (1986).
The issue also explains why offsetting is so important nowadays. Taking into account modern society and economy it is hard to maintain environment. That’s why offsets may help to counterbalance harmful impacts. However there are also negative sides. In Australia, for example, some programs were accused of being too narrowly focused. In the USA a well-known environmental program Superfund also specializes on protection and rehabilitation of ecosystems. Managers of this program often need detailed image of far-away rural areas which they can’t visit. At the same time they have to predict extreme situations and be able to take measures. US EPA also controls greenhouse gas emissions, which nowadays exceed ecological norms. I think that cooperation US and Europe will help to work more efficiently. International collaboration is main factor of environmental protection.
The second part of the issue deals with the purpose of environmental offsets. It provides important information for major stakeholders about proper offset use. The EPA, for example, admits that this will guide the organization and help it to make certain decisions. It is shown on the example of “net environmental benefit goal”. It consists of direct and contributing offsets. Although direct offsets can be beneficial in counterbalancing the environmental impact, they can’t achieve successful results in every situation. Contributing offsets along with the direct ones meet certain principles. For instance, these can be defensive mechanisms, education, investigation and other beneficial activities.
According to ecosystems, direct offsets can restore and rehabilitate present degraded systems and re-establish the longed-for ones. For example, it includes “re-establishing biodiversity corridors” and some particular ecosystems in the “areas of low representation”. On the whole both offset activities (contributing and direct) are elements of combined approach. In some circumstances contributing offsets are more appropriate than direct ones. For example, they often lead to more beneficial results in comparison with direct offsets.
In conclusion I’d like to say that general public should see that main principles of environmental offsets were applied to practical life. The issue deals with different environmental matters, such as native vegetation (including marine habitats), biodiversity, wetlands, rivers, landscape, ecosystems sensitive to threats, etc. The issue views offsetting from the EPA’s perspective and solves problems of its approval.

References
Environmental Offsets (January, 2006). Position Statement ? 9. Environmental Protection Authority.
Environment Australia (2001a). A Directory of Important Wetlands”, 3rd Edition, Canberra.
United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) (2002). Global Environment Outlook.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2007). Wastewater Management. http://www.epa.gov/owm/