Volume 23, 2008
Philosophy of Environment
Mitigation Banking and The Problem of Consolidation
A mitigation bank is a large wetland or wetland complex that is developed for the sake of selling credits to private developers or government agencies to compensate for the destruction of natural wetlands. The United States Army Corps of Engineers often sets as a condition for issuing a Section 404 permit the purchase of a certain number of bank credits. Mitigation banking is now emphasized within Corps’ policy, and it has become big business within the United States. Arguments for mitigation banking stress the efficiency in permitting and monitoring that banking makes possible. Proponents of banking claim that banking is ecologically beneficial to wetland plants and animals, but recent studies have shown that mitigation banking threatens biodiversity. The problem, generally, is consolidation. Underlying mitigation banking, and embedded within Corps policy, is the assumption that preservation of wetland functions must accommodate to a large extent desired levels of economic development and efficiency in the development process.