A non-profit organization promised to protect the wildlife. Then millions did it, claiming they could cut trees
According to Clegern, the program’s protective measures prevent the problems that CarbonPlan has identified.
California’s offsets are seen as an additional reduction in CO2 emissions as the floor “acts as a conservative backstop,” said Clegern. Without them, he explained, many landowners could have logged in to even lower levels without offsets.
Clegern added that the agency’s rules were adopted and upheld by the courts as the result of a lengthy debate process. A California appeals court found that the Air Resources Board was optional to use a standardized approach to assess whether projects were additional.
However, the court did not make an independent decision on the effectiveness of the standard and was “fairly respectful of the agency’s verdict,” Alice Kaswan, a law professor at the University of San Francisco law school, said in an email.
Under California law, state cap-and-trade regulations must ensure that emissions reductions are “real, permanent, quantifiable, verifiable” and “in addition to any other greenhouse gas emission reductions that would otherwise occur.”
“If there is new scientific information that raises serious questions about the integrity of offsets, CARB appears to have a continuing obligation to consider that information and revise its protocols accordingly,” said Kaswan. “The agency has an obligation to implement the law, and the law has additional aspects.”
One early spring day, Audubon scientist Lautzenheiser took a reporter into a forest protected by the Offset Project. The trees here were mostly tall white pines mixed with hemlocks, maples, and oaks. Lautzenheiser is usually the only person in this part of the forest where he spends hours looking for rare plants or examining brook salamanders.
The non-profit organization’s planning documents acknowledge that the forests included in the California program were protected long before compensation began: “Much of the project area has been preserved for many years and has been designated as a high conservation value forest, with the conscious Management geared towards long-term natural nature is resource conservation values. “