A Credit, Lovely as a Tree
One of the best things about living in Texas is that it is seldom boring for long. Boorish, frequently. Boring? How can it be, when, not even counting the pecan groves, we’ve got more nuts per acre than any place outside California. And then, living anywhere on Planet Earth these days is inherently funny, as long as you appreciate gallows humor.
Take this recent news from the Texas Forest Service. The agency has added a “new dimension to its responsibilities” – hey, that sounds impressive – by verifying “forestry offset projects” for owners “seeking to sell their trees’ carbon credits on the open market.” And what’s even better, we’re the first! No other state agency has yet become an Authorized Verifier! Woo hoo! Texas rules!
So what the heck does all that mumbo jumbo mean? The devil is in the details, and the folks who came up with this plan are surely sharpening their pitchforks as we speak. Let Static explain. This is like those other lovely programs where companies that want to keep belching their emissions into the atmosphere buy “pollution credits” from some other company that has cleaned up its act. So you, dear tree owner, wishing to be green and helpful to the planet, can help Megadeth Corp. keep smoking up the air by loaning them the carbon-removing capacity of your trees. Yes, the ones in your front yard, as long as you planted them after 1990. And they’ll pay you money for it.
Well, not real money. Figuring the going price for carbon credits, and subtracting certain fees … maybe a few bucks an acre. The forestry service says this creates a “small additional income stream” that might convince an East Texas landowner to keep the trees rather than turning some wooded acreage into a trailer park (their example, not Static’s). Who are we kidding here? What landowner is going to make a decision about multiple acres of land based on the pocket change he or she might get for not cutting down the trees? And how does that help the poor slobs breathing next to the smokestacks?
Static has a better idea. Enforce the nation’s clean air standards instead of creating loopholes for polluters to waltz through. Better yet, ratify the Kyoto Protocol and make a real effort to clean the air and stop global warming. Meanwhile, expand the credit program to more practical areas. For instance, adulterers could buy credits from monogamous couples and then hit the strip joints and massage parlors guilt-free, knowing their moral transgressions have been counterbalanced by the virtuous.
Static will need to find an entire city of teetotalers to offset its after-work bingeing, but that’s another story.