Michigan Department of Natural Resources defends carbon offset plans | Michigan Radio
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Michigan Department of Natural Resources defends carbon offset plans

Oct 21, 2020

A dirt road cuts through part of the forest at Pigeon River Country State Forest. The state plans to account for the carbon sequestered by the forest.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Some environmental groups are criticizing the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for a planned carbon offset program.

The DNR is planning a pilot program that would account for the carbon taken up by the Pigeon River Country State Forest. The forest absorbs carbon dioxide. That has value on a voluntary carbon market. Polluters can buy that carbon value as a way of offsetting their greenhouse gas emissions.

A story carried by Energy News Network called the use of forestry and other carbon offsets “notoriously imperfect.”

Scott Whitcomb is the Senior Advisor for Wildlife and Public Lands at the DNR. He says the project developer, BlueSource will measure the growth.

“They have a process where they can measure these things. Also, it’s verified by an independent third party. So, we’ll have some other eyes on it, making sure that indeed those carbon resources are being sequestered,” Whitcomb said.

The forest will continue to be managed as a timber source, elk habitat, as well as a carbon sink.

The article also quoted the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition as saying a carbon offset program just gives corporations the opportunity to continue to pollute and no incentive to actually reduce emissions.

Whitcomb says carbon offsets have a role to play as companies transition from fossil fuels to renewables.

“We don't we don't see this as a sort of a silver bullet or a panacea to the larger climate issue. But we see it as one piece to a very complex puzzle,” Whitcomb said.

Whitcomb added that the carbon offset program can be a part of a climate solution.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said logging would end at Pigeon River Country State Forest. That is incorrect. Management of the forest will be much the same, but account for the carbon sequestered. The story has been corrected above.