Sunday, June 23, 2024

Commissioner Franz urges House to pass Carbon Credit Bill


OLYMPIA – Washington should be able to generate revenue from the carbon stored in its public lands, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz told the state House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Tuesday.

Testifying in support of HB 1789, Commissioner Franz stressed how carbon stored in Washington’s forests, fields and waterways could add new revenue for school and communities, while fighting climate change and protecting Washington’s working forests.

“To enhance our ability to raise funds to support kids in school, restore salmon habitats, protect working forests, and get one step closer to accomplishing what the Climate Commitment Act envisions, DNR should be able to work in the carbon offset sector in the same way that private-sector businesses and non-profit organizations already do,” said Commissioner Franz. “But right now, my agency is competing in the carbon offset market with one arm tied behind our back – and that means less revenue for the state, and less climate action. HB 1789 will enable DNR to not just compete on a level playing field, but we’ll also save taxpayers from paying for third-party intermediaries.”

Under the legislation, prime sponsored by Rep. Kristine Reeves (D-Federal Way), DNR would be able to sell carbon credits on the open market as many private industries already do. This would enable DNR to provide Washington-based carbon credits for the cap-and-invest program created under the Climate Commitment Act.

DNR currently has the authority to lease state-owned lands for carbon sequestration and capture, but cannot directly sell carbon credits. Using commercial leases is an unnecessary and time-consuming step that keeps DNR out of markets that private landowners already have access to, and results in less revenue generated for our beneficiaries. These leases are also capped at 99 years in length, which does not comply with permanence provisions with the Climate Commitment Act.

DNR would also establish a transparent process for the sale of carbon credits that would help to ensure that the sales of these credits provide the greatest benefit to beneficiaries, local communities and the state.

Companion legislation in the Senate, SB5688, primarily sponsored by Sen. Liz Lovelett (D-Anacortes) and Sen. Joe Nguyen (D-White Center) had its initial hearing last Friday, Feb. 10, in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy and Technology.


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