As Brig. Gen Duke DeLuca wrapped up his 32-year career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in August, he contemplated the key to Louisiana’s massive, 50-year, $50 billion effort to prevent the southeastern portion of the state from being swallowed by the Gulf of Mexico.Unfortunately, we don't really do "moon-shot" level investing in any science that isn't primarily about blowing things up. (Recall the actual moon shot was, itself, about building rockets and beating the Soviets.)
DeLuca, an expert on the many threats facing the coast, said: “It will take a moon-shot type of investment in the science.”
Instead, when it comes to funding big projects with no obvious military purpose, we take bank-shots. So, instead of just putting money directly into coastal restoration, we see how much we can coax heavy industry to contribute to the cause. How do we do that? By selling them licenses to keep on throwing soot into the air in California.
Carbon credits, derived from the additional absorption of greenhouse gases from the air, can be put up for sale in two markets.See? Everybody wins! Well, OK, not everybody, really.
The first market is in California, where industrial facilities are required to make up for the amount of greenhouse gas they release by either finding ways to reduce those emissions or by buying carbon credits for reductions elsewhere. The second market is a voluntary market where companies look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint by purchasing carbon credits to offset greenhouse gases they release during the course of business.
The regulatory market usually results in a higher price for the credits, but both could provide a market for Louisiana wetlands building, as imagined over the next 50 years in the state coastal master plan.
“I don’t see carbon fully funding a coastal restoration project, but I see it could help fund projects,” said Sarah Mack, one of the report’s authors and president and CEO of Tierra Resources.You know, it helps a little. But the polluters get to keep on polluting with a slightly clearer conscience. And that's really the point. If it wasn't we'd just go ahead and force the industries that cause environmental damage to pay for repairs. But we've already said we don't want to do that.