Oklahoma develops program to verify carbon offsets
By Doug Rich
The Oklahoma Conservation Commission (OCC) is developing a unique voluntary program to verify carbon offsets.
The OCC will approve aggregators who want to buy offsets in the state, provide verification services, certify offsets listed for sale, and post these offsets in an online registry.
"Who buys thousands of dollars worth of merchandise sight unseen?" Stacy Hansen, director of the Carbon Sequestration Program at the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, asked. "This is where verification comes in."
As part of the Oklahoma Carbon Program, aggregators and verifiers who apply will be asked to supply their credentials before they are approved to operate in the state.
"The reason we do this is because we will be recommending them to you," Hansen said. "There will be a list of service providers. And, if we are going to recommend them to you, we need to know a little about what they are doing."
On the other side of the equation, the program will verify the carbon offsets offered for sale to aggregators. Once they are verified, they will be listed in the Oklahoma Carbon Registry where information about that offset will be published online.
"This is for transparency so these offsets are not continuously sold," Hansen said. "Someone interested in buying offsets can look online to see which offsets have already been bought or sold. This helps with the credibility of these offsets."
There are fees associated with this unfunded program. Hansen said the OCC has invested over 2,000 hours just in 2008, in developing this program. Fees will be charged for both types of verification--field verification and document verification. For example, an individual signs up 200 acres of no-till, the verifier would go out to visually appraise the fields to make sure that is actually happening. Document verification involves reviewing land management records to assure that each offset is real and qualified. Proposed fees are $30 an hour plus mileage for field verification and $50 an hour for document verification. These rates are based on similar programs in North Dakota and Illinois.
Producers who want to list offsets on the registry that are not verified through this volunteer program will be charged a fee of $50.
Hansen said that by putting the state seal of approval on these offsets they would have more value on a national basis.
If you would like more information about the Oklahoma Carbon Program, visit www.conservation.ok.gov.
Doug Rich can be reached by phone at 785-749-5304 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.