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State Lawmakers Consider Creating Carbon Offset Program

State lawmakers are considering creating a program that would allow landowners to sell carbon offsets. Carbon offsets are a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by allowing businesses and other entities that pollute to buy credits from people doing climate-friendly practices. 

State Sen. Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington) said this is a way landowners who do things like plant trees or practice sustainable agriculture can generate income.

“So you have Indiana businesses spending their money for carbon offsets in California, Alaska, and North Carolina, and I think Indiana businesses would be happy to spend that money here," he said.

Warren County farmer Rick Clark said he implements a lot of environmentally-friendly practices on his farm and is in favor of creating a carbon offset program in Indiana. But he said the state needs to make sure the program rewards farmers doing the right practices — like cover crops and no-till agriculture.

“You have to decide that you’re going to farm differently than your father did and your grandfather did,” Clark said.

It can also be difficult to measure just how much greenhouse gases an acre of trees or farmland can take out of the air — which could lead to overestimating the emissions that land offsets.

Stoops is retiring this year and hopes lawmakers will introduce his draft bill on carbon offsets in the next legislative session. He said the program would be voluntary and any money made by the program would go toward keeping it running.

U.S. Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) recently introduced a similar billin the U.S. Senate.

Contact reporter Rebecca at rthiele@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.