Whale Pass city council unanimously proposes carbon credit sale in place of timber harvest proposal

Whale Pass, Alaska (KINY) - The community of Whale Pass has unanimously resolved to support what could be the State of Alaska’s first carbon offset project.
Tongass Forest

The decision was made after an analysis showed it could earn the state $1.3 to $6.8 million — while keeping the lands the community relies on for hunting, fishing, and business opportunities intact.

The carbon credit sale would replace a relatively low-value, and uniformly opposed, timber sale on state lands surrounding and within Whale Pass.

“We have a chance to make some real money and develop our economy in a way that Whale Pass supports,” said city council member James Greeley, who brought the resolution forward. “This could be a win-win for everyone. We ask Governor Dunleavy to support Whale Pass as a flagship carbon offset project for the governor’s State of Alaska carbon offset bill — instead of earning pennies on a timber project the people of the community oppose.”

He added it has brought the community together.

The City Council of Whale Pass submitted the proposal for the first State carbon offset project to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources on Friday, Sept. 29, following a unanimous resolution of the Council. The analysis considered publicly available data to make an estimate of the market value of carbon credits for the land around the community.

A carbon offset project for Whale Pass is possible because of a new law introduced by Governor Dunleavy and passed this spring.

The Carbon Offset Program of 2023, Senate Bill 48, allows the Department of Natural Resources to sell carbon offset credits for state lands.

A carbon offset credit allows people to buy and sell a guarantee that represents an emission reduction of one metric ton of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gasses.

Projects are defined as land and resource management measures that mitigate greenhouse gas emissions by maintaining or increasing the carbon stock on state land.

Before any money changes hands, a carbon offset project would have to be verified through an existing carbon verification standard.

These standards ensure that buyers are getting more carbon storage or more carbon sequestration than would have happened without the project.

The Whale Pass proposal also asks the State to take the initial step of amending the State Forest Management Plan so that planning for a carbon offset project can begin.