Thursday, June 18, 2009

Carbon Offsets

Vilsack's testimony before House Ag is here:
"The systems we establish will need to recognize the scale of the changes needed, the capabilities of farmers and land owners involved, and the infrastructure that will be required to deliver information, manage data and resources, and maintain records and registries. In addition to bringing offsets to scale, we must also ensure that the offsets markets have high standards of environmental integrity to ensure that offsets result in real and measurable greenhouse gas reductions while bolstering efforts to conserve soil, water, and fish and wildlife resources."
The NYTimes has a post describing the concerns and back and forth between ag and EPA. One proposal, not something NRCS would like:
"Kenneth Richards, an associate professor at Indiana University, said the current bill needs language ensuring that the same project can be verified by three separate investigators. That concept, which made it into a climate bill considered briefly in the Senate last year, would cut down on inaccuracy and fraudulence surrounding measurements of carbon, he said."
I'm skeptical, but maybe there is a compromise possible, at least for policing it: Record the offsets on a GIS layer and make it publically available. Farmers get the offset payments but have to give up the secrecy now applied to their acreage uses. Because, as Professor Richards observes, NRCS isn't (at least wasn't) comfortable being a regulatory agency (witness sod/swampbuster), give FSA a role. (Cynics among you knew that was where I was headed.)

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