Carbon credits still a question at the airport | SierraSun.com

Carbon credits still a question at the airport

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

Greyson Howard/Sierra Sun Dave Parsons, Truckee Tahoe Airport executive assistant looks over a map of Waddle Ranch Monday. The airport is taking steps towards potentially selling carbon credits.

The Truckee Tahoe Airport Board is still weighing its options and studying all the facts before jumping into the new market of carbon credits.

Board members in a three-to-two vote decided to take one more step towards selling carbon credits Thursday, getting the airport’s emissions verified by a third party for $5,000.

The airport would be selling carbon credits ” quantified amounts of carbon store by plant life used to offset other greenhouse gas emissions ” from the recently preserved Waddle Ranch in the Martis Valley.

“I’m not looking at this as is carbon sequestration a good thing or a bad thing,” said Kathleen Eagan, a board member who voted against the verification Thursday. “It’s a business question for me ” is it worth the risk for the airport.”

Eagan said she isn’t against it financially yet, she just wants to make sure every aspect is studied properly.

“I’m willing to investigate but I have lots and lots of questions,” she said.

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As the pieces fall into place, Airport General Manager Dave Gotschall said the airport board will be able to make a final decision early next year.

All in, the airport will have spent about $100,000 to inventory, verify and register the tons of carbon saved by keeping Waddle Ranch from being developed, Gotschall said.

Keeping to the incremental approach, Gotschall said the next possible steps could be selling just enough to recoup that $100,000 spent.

With offers already coming in at between $10 and $18 a ton, and a yet-to-be verified inventory of 123,000 and 173,000 tons of carbon, Gotschall said covering costs may not be too difficult.

And Dave Parsons, executive assistant at the airport, said those prices could continue to rise based on a number of factors.

California Assembly Bill 32 could take carbon credits from a voluntary market to a regulated one, potentially driving up credit prices, and both presidential candidates have proposed national carbon cap-and-trade systems, which could further increase value, Parsons said.

Other options down the line could include keeping all the carbon credits as a financial asset to the airport district, or using some to offset the district’s emissions, Gotschall said.

“We don’t have a big footprint, it looks like about 260 tons of carbon a year,” Gotschall said. “With what we have at Waddle, that gives us 479 years of carbon offset at our current levels.”

Truckee Tahoe Airport District General Manager Dave Gotschall said the district board approved a general forest management plan for Waddle Ranch, the open space recently preserved in the Martis Valley.

The forest management would cost about $80,000 a year to reduce fuels and fire risk and maximize carbon intake, Gotschall said.

Stewardship of Waddle Ranch will be transferred to the airport in the next few months, he said.