Hilary Franz, Washington state commissioner of public lands, is advocating for legislation that would add the Washington State Department of Natural Resources to the list of non-profit and private businesses that can pursue carbon offset projects and sell carbon credits. Introduced to the Washington state senate on Feb. 3, S.B. 5688 would provide carbon sequestration and ecosystem services in the management of public lands

During a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy and Technology on Feb. 10, Franz explained that allowing the department to compete in carbon markets would save taxpayer dollars, generate revenue for department beneficiaries like public schools and generate money that would fund natural resource investments, like forest health and post-wildfire restoration projects. The department’s Carbon Playbook would serve as a guide for implementation of practices on the state's almost 6 million acres. 

Industry foresters argue that the wording of the legislation does not account for the downstream revenues working forests provide, including jobs, millwork, harvesting contracts and roadwork. Doug Cooper, vice president of resources for the family-owned Hampton Lumber, spoke during the Feb. 10 bill public hearing. 

“Carbon accounting and value is one of the most contentious conversations in forest land management today,” he said.

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