Report: Carbon Credits Could Help Restore Coastline

BATON ROUGE (AP) — A new reports finds the ability of coastal wetlands to absorb, and retain, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases could be a means to help restore parts of Louisiana's disappearing coastline.

         Sarah Mack, one of the report's authors and president and CEO of Tierra Resources, tells The Advocate’s Amy Wold she doesn't see carbon fully funding a coastal restoration project, but it could help fund projects.

         The report finds the amount of carbon credits that could be generated by some coastal restoration techniques could produce between $400 million and $1 billion in revenue that could go toward coastal restoration in the state. An additional $140 million up to $630 million could be generated by preventing wetlands loss, which would stop carbon stored in these wetlands from being released.

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         The report helps quantify the amount of greenhouse gases certain coastal restoration techniques could provide and then considers the current carbon credit markets to determine a rough value that could be paid for those credits.

         Greenhouse gases get their names because they have led to the gradual warming of global temperatures over time. Efforts to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere include the development of carbon credit markets.

         Wetlands, Mack explained, are unique because they store carbon dioxide in the plant and in the soil, which means retaining wetlands also can help reduce carbon output.

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         Carbon credits, derived from the additional absorption of greenhouse gases from the air, can be put up for sale in two markets.

         The first market is in California, where industrial facilities are required to make up for the amount of greenhouse gas they release by either finding ways to reduce those emissions or by buying carbon credits for reductions elsewhere. The second market is a voluntary market where companies look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint by purchasing carbon credits to offset greenhouse gases they release during the course of business.

         The regulatory market usually results in a higher price for the credits, but both could provide a market for Louisiana wetlands building, as imagined over the next 50 years in the state coastal master plan.

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