Climate Change: Climate Action Reserve Adopts Safeguards Policy

By Published On: September 28, 2012

The Climate Action Reserve adopted an Environmental & Social Safeguards Policy Sept. 26 to be incorporated into greenhouse gas emissions offset project protocols it develops. In order for offset project developers to successfully register and certify offsets, the policy requires a showing that their projects are causing no social or environmental harm. In general, this means that project developers must substantially follow all applicable legal regulations, explained Derik Broekhoff, Climate Action Reserve vice president for policy. In some cases, he noted, developers may be subject to safeguards above and beyond what’s legally required, particularly when stakeholders do not believe that applicable laws and regulations are adequate. Broekhoff said that environmental and social safeguards would be incorporated into each offset protocol that the Climate Action Reserve develops. He noted that the safeguards are to be tailored to particular types of offset projects, since the potential harm is project-specific. For instance, offset projects that capture methane from coal mines pose the danger of explosions, while organic waste composting projects can create odors that become a nuisance to surrounding neighbors. Climate Action Reserve president Gary Gero said the policy is the result of five months of work by an advisory committee. * * * * * Over the objections of interveners, the California Energy Commission met Sept. 27 in an effort to close data gaps in the application of Hydrogen Energy California to obtain a construction license for a coal- and petroleum coke-fueled power plant in Kern County. The plant would include carbon capture and storage technology. The Energy Commission used the meeting in Sacramento to drill down into the potential environmental impacts of the project, including such issues as smog-forming emissions, disposition of hazardous materials and wastes, and transportation and traffic impacts. However, Hydrogen Energy California had few answers, saying in correspondence before the meeting it would need an additional 30 days to address many of the questions Energy Commission staff has about its project. The meeting came after Kern County Farm Bureau president Steve Maniaci Sept. 24 objected to holding it in Sacramento, since the project impacts would occur in Kern County. He asked for the meeting to be held in Bakersfield instead and for it to be delayed, since farmers in the area are busy harvesting crops at this time. The Sierra Club also objected to the timing of the meeting, urging it be moved to October to provide more time for interveners to receive and study data they have requested in the licensing process. CEC staff said at this week’s meeting that the agency is planning another workshop on the project in Kern County, likely on Oct. 24. The Hydrogen Energy California plant--to be built on farm land--would capture carbon dioxide produced when coal and coke are gasified. It would pipe it to a nearby Occidental Petroleum oil field. Oxy then would inject it into the ground to pressurize oil wells and recover oil it could not otherwise tap. The plant would produce electricity by burning the hydrogen produced when the fossil fuels are gasified.

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