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Michigan signs on to start carbon credit project

DTE Energy has pledged an estimated $10 million to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to leverage carbon storage in state forest trees.

The DNR pilot project offers a portfolio of carbon offset credits generated from sustainable forest management on more than 100,000 acres of Pigeon River Country State Forest – known as “The Big Wild” – in the northern Lower Peninsula.

Jason Hayes, director of environmental policy at the free-market Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said that Michigan’s forests must be actively managed to remain an active CO2 “sink.”

“The pilot project where DTE Energy purchases carbon credits from the DNR is an inevitable outgrowth of the belief that climate change is an ‘existential crisis,’ as opposed to a manageable phenomenon and something to which we can intelligently adapt,” Hayes wrote in an email. “It is also inevitable that these programs will lead to increased electricity rates as utilities must purchase the CO2 credits as they continue to use fossil fuels to generate the reliable electricity that wind and solar can’t provide.”

A single tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide in a year. In 40 years, a tree can store 1 ton of carbon. If these trees become long-lasting wood products, the carbon they absorbed from the atmosphere is captured or “stored” within the manufactured item.

One carbon credit equals 1 ton of carbon dioxide emission. Bluesource, a Utah-based company, is currently working on carbon accounting, and it’s expected for credits to be sold by next summer.

DTE Energy’s purchase of carbon credits allows it to offer carbon offsets to customers with significantly higher energy usage and aligns with DTE’s goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

DTE Energy has agreed to buy all of the carbon credits generated off the Pigeon River Country State Forest during the first 10 years of the program, at an estimated cost of more than $10 million.

Payments will start with the first delivery of carbon credits to DTE in 2022. Bluesource will provide updates on the revenue stream’s timeline and size.

“Bluesource projects have reduced hundreds of millions of tons of greenhouse gases over our 20-year history, and we can’t scale without the climate finance provided by progressive companies like DTE,” Bluesource Vice President of Environmental Markets Ben Massie said in a statement. “Their long-term investment in credits from Michigan DNR’s Big Wild Forest Carbon Project gives DTE customers an impactful way to reduce their carbon footprint, while at the same time driving sustainable forest management and value within the state.”

Scott Whitcomb, DNR senior advisor for Wildlife and Public Lands, told The Center Square this is just another form of wildlife management.

“We feel that we manage forests for many different outcomes,” Whitcomb said in a phone interview. “We think carbon is complementary to those outcomes. We manage for forest products, for wildlife habitats, for recreation, and also for carbon. We think all of them can be complementary to each other.”

This article was originally posted on Michigan signs on to start carbon credit project

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