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State reaches deal with DTE to purchase carbon credits based on state forest

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has an agreement with DTE Energy to purchase carbon offset credits from a state forest.

The state says this is the nation’s first carbon credit project on state forest land.

A company called Bluesource has been assessing the amount of carbon dioxide the trees take in at the Pigeon River Country State Forest.

“And that carbon then is a commodity that can be sold on the voluntary markets and in revenue achieved from that,” said Scott Whitcomb, a senior policy advisor for the DNR.

As DTE buys credits, it in turn plans to offer to sell the credits to its natural gas customers.

“And it provides our customers with the option to bundle carbon offsets with their gas purchases to basically decrease their carbon footprint,” said Matt Paul, President of DTE Gas.

Businesses are looking for ways to show they're doing their part to reduce the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change. But for some businesses, more efficient equipment and renewable energy will not get them to net zero.

It’s estimated that DTE will spend $10 million on carbon credits.

“It’s a 10 year agreement. So, the $10 million plus that we’re investing is over 10 years and it’ll amount to about a million tons of offsets in total.”

What will the DNR do with that money?

“It’s going to go into tree planting on state forest lands, and then it’s also going to go into the Fish and Game Fund and be available for wildlife habitat management,” said the DNR’s Whitcomb.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
An area of the Pigeon River Country State Forest after a timber harvest.

The program will limit the amount of trees that can be cut down for lumber each year. The DNR says it's come up with a management plan that will make the forest a carbon sink, offer some timber harvest, and provide habitat for wildlife.

The Department of Natural Resources says this is the nation’s first carbon project on state forest land.

It is a 40-year pilot project. If it works out on this 109,000 acre state forest, Michigan has almost another four million acres of trees sucking up CO2.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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