Carbon Sequestration Certification Program
Oklahoma Carbon Program Preparing for Next Phase
25 Mar 2014
The Oklahoma Carbon Program continues to explore policies, methods, and standards that are based in science, reasonable to implement, and achievable by producers willing to voluntarily commit to improved management practices that result in greenhouse gas (GHG) sequestration and other ecosystem service benefits. While all carbon market programs must strive to assure that their systems are based on sound science and create positive, verifiable benefits, we feel it is imperative that they also be user-friendly, both for those attempting to secure offsets and for those who are willing to engage in best management practices that result in carbon sequestration and an overall reduction in GHG in the atmosphere.
Oklahoma Carbon Program Completes Conservation Innovation Grant Project
27 Dec 2013
It was a busy year as we worked to complete our three year Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) Project. The final report was submitted in December. The project completed carbon sequestration verification protocols under development in Oklahoma, paired them with soil sampling, and demonstrated how verified carbon offsets and related water quality improvements can be bundled for ecosystem market transactions. The purpose of this project was to develop, test, and implement carbon sequestration verification protocols for agricultural and silvicultural practices that are recognized to have carbon market value to ensure environmental benefits of ecosystem market transactions. The project was open to producers in 19 Oklahoma counties
Producer participation was critical to the project’s success.
Project acres and estimated amount of CO2e sequestered 2010-2012
|CO2e seq. (Mtons)
The project completed drafts of 3 verification protocols and a soil sampling protocol, taught the methods to conservation districts, and then used the methods to collect data from participating acres. As a verification program offering conservation districts the opportunity to provide verification services, we recognized the need to standardize data collection methods and to make them usable by non-specialists. This has the advantage of keeping future verification costs down, allowing conservation districts the opportunity to train and work as verifiers, making more offset project funds available to producers, and keeping more project funds within Oklahoma. We developed protocols for no-till fields, grasslands, and rangeland.
We created a Verifier Training Program and Conservation districts used the verification methods developed to field verify over 80,000 acres during the 3 years.
The methods developed during this project were taught to conservation district staff whose districts signed agreements to provide verification services for the Oklahoma Carbon Program and who committed their staff to attending verifier trainings. Over 50 hours of formal classroom and field training, and 200 hours of on the job field training during field assessments were provided to staff from 11 conservation districts within the project area. State NRCS partners provided portions of the formal classroom training and all of the formal field training. The on the job training was provided by a cadre of senior verifiers comprised of conservation district staff and a lead verifier from the Oklahoma Conservation Commission.
Estimate the reduction of sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorous loading to streams in the project area using the EPA STEP-L model.
Using the U.S. EPA STEP-L spreadsheet tool, we estimated the reduction of sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorous loading to streams in the project area. The year 2010-2012 load reduction (the amount not leaving the land and entering water) was estimated at 203,342 pounds of nitrogen; 39,381 pounds of phosphorous; and 10,651 tons of sediment. The three practice types used to arrive at this number were: conversion from tillage to no-till cropping, conversion from cropland to seeded grassland, and installation of riparian buffer.
Oklahoma Carbon Program Receives Henry Bellmon Environmental Sustainability Awar
13 Sep 2012
The Oklahoma Carbon Program received the 2012 Environmental Stewardship Award from the Henry Bellmon Sustainability Awards program. The award was presented at a gala at the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa on Sept. 13, 2012. Mike Thralls, OCC executive director, and Stacy Hansen, OCC Carbon Program director, accepted the award.
Sustainable Tulsa and the Tulsa Southside Rotary Club and Foundation joined together to create the Henry Bellmon Sustainability Awards to honor the memory of the Oklahoma Governor and Senator and raise awareness and reward those people, agencies, organizations or companies who dedicate themselves to a balanced approach toward quality of life, responsible economic growth and environmental stewardship.
The Oklahoma Carbon Program is a program of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission’s Water Quality Division and has been recognized locally, nationally and internationally as a leader in sustainability. The program encourages Oklahomans to protect water quality, prevent soil erosion and improve air quality by voluntarily adopting conservation practices that sequester carbon or avoid emission of greenhouse gasses. More than 50,000 acres of sustainable farming practices have been verified in the program since 2009.
In accepting the award, Thralls quoted the first chief of the U.S. Soil Conservation Service, which is now the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. “The Oklahoma Carbon Program and all Conservation Commission programs are guided by the principal stated by Hugh Hammond Bennett: ‘If you take care of the land, the land will take care of you.’” http://www.bellmonawards.com
Oklahoma Named in International Report on Carbon Markets
2 Mar 2012
(Oklahoma City, OK - March 2, 2012) - The voluntary carbon sequestration program run by the Oklahoma Conservation Commission is included in a new report on government programs and carbon markets. The publication by Ecosystem Marketplace titled Bringing it Home: Taking Stock of Government Engagement with the Voluntary Carbon Market was released Thursday. Oklahoma is one of three U.S. states included in the report alongside ten other countries including Australia, China, Thailand, and the Netherlands. The Commission describes the Oklahoma Carbon Program as another example of the successful Conservation Partnership in Oklahoma between the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, NRCS and Conservation Districts who work together to deliver voluntary programs that assist farmers and ranchers.
“We are thrilled to be included in the report," said Stacy Hansen, director of the carbon program. "Through this program, we promote healthy ecosystems rather than simply the air quality aspects of carbon sequestration. We also collect data on soil health and management systems that we hope will help agriculture producers cope with severe weather events and a changing climate.” Another reason the program is so successful, said Hansen, is because of the Commission’s ongoing support from EPA’s Clean Water Act grants.
“With EPA’s financial and technical support, we have one of the top water quality programs in the nation,” said Hansen. “By overlapping the water quality program and the carbon program, we are able to expand and synergize environmental benefits beyond the resource management goals of individual programs. Such programmatic partnering is essential, especially in these times of budget cuts.”
Since 2009, working with conservation districts, the program has certified over 30,000 acres of farmland for carbon credits equal to 20,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. All of the credits were purchased through an aggregator by the Western Farmers Electric Cooperative. According to Hansen, this program is another way the Conservation Commission is fulfilling its mission to conserve, protect and restore Oklahoma's natural resources through voluntary, incentive based programs.
"By working in collaboration with EPA, NRCS, conservation districts and other partners, on behalf of the citizens of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Carbon Program emphasizes the co- benefits that practices such as range management, no-till crop production and forestry management provide," Hansen said. "These benefits include protecting water quality, improving soil health, controlling soil erosion and providing wildlife habitat--and all of it is done through voluntary means without regulations. We are very excited about this program and we are glad to see voluntary, market based programs like this being recognized." To read or download the report, visit the Ecosystem Marketplace website.
Oklahoma Carbon Initiative Reaches 50,000 Acres
13 Dec 2011
More than 50 thousand acres of Oklahoma farm and ranch land has now been enrolled in a voluntary program that rewards landowners for good natural resource stewardship that sequesters carbon in the soil while providing additional conservation benefits, according to Joe Parker, President of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD). “We are extremely excited about the response we have seen from agriculture producers to this unique, one-of-a-kind program,” Parker said. “By helping landowners sell the carbon credits generated on their land when they practice good conservation, we are rewarding them not just for the carbon they are sequestering, but also for the other benefits the practices they are undertaking on their land generate, including controlling soil erosion, improving wildlife habitat and protecting water. This is a great way to help address numerous natural resource issues while putting a little money in producer’s pockets.”
To read the full article, visit http://southwestfarmpress.com/print/management/oklahoma-carbon-initiative-reaches-50-thousand-acres.
Carbon Program a Partner in FY2011 NRCS CIG Project to Reduce Nitrous Oxide Emissions in Oklahoma
2 Sep 2011
A project that includes the Delta Institute, National Wildlife Federation, and Oklahoma State University is working with agriculture producers in western Oklahoma to reduce nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizer application. The project, Bringing Greenhouse Gas Benefits to Market: Nutrient Management for Nitrous Oxide Reductions, will work with participating agriculture producers to collect data from fields using the N-Rich Strip and nitrogen-measuring pocket sensors. The on-farm goal is to optimize nitrogen application while maintaining or increasing crop yield. The project will use the data, models, contracts, verification protocols, and producer surveys to identify the opportunities and barriers of implementing nutrient management greenhouse gas (GHG) programs. The project team will draw lessons from this experience for future GHG market design and participation, with the goal of enrolling producers into a program that generates market-quality GHG reduction credits from nutrient management and conservation practices. The three year project is funded in part by a FY2011 USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant.
Agriculture Single Largest Source of Nitrogen Compounds Entering the Environment in the U.S.
2 Sep 2011
According to an article in the September edition of the USDA Economic Research Service's (ERS) magazine Amber Waves, "Agriculture is the single largest source of nitrogen compounds entering the environment in the U.S., contributing 73 percent of nitrous oxide emissions, 84 percent of ammonia emissions, and 54 percent of nitrate emissions in recent years ... Nitrogen applied in excess of crop needs has the greatest risk of leaving the field and degrading air and water resources ..."
To read the article, visit: http://www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/September11/Features/NitrogenFootprint.htm.
Government Accountability Office (GAO) Releases Report - Climate Change Issues: Options for Addressing Challenges to Carbon Offset Quality
17 Jun 2011
This GAO report provides information on key challenges in assessing the quality of different types of offsets and options for addressing key challenges associated with offset quality. GAO reviewed relevant literature and interviewed selected experts and stakeholders such as project developers, verifiers, and program officials.
To view the report, visit: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-345.
American Society of Agronomy (ASA) Releases Climate Change Policy Statement
16 Jun 2011
ASA, along with the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), have developed a position statement on climate change based on a review of current scientific knowledge and understanding. Because the potential changes in climate are significant for the practice of agriculture and land management, ASA, CSSA, and SSSA issue this statement to describe the state of the science and facilitate ongoing discussion, decision-making, and research. The statement expresses the findings of a panel of scientists with national and international expertise in climate processes and impacts, mitigation strategies, and adaptation methods for natural and managed ecosystems.
To view the statement, visit: https://www.agronomy.org/files/science-policy/asa-cssa-sssa-climate-change-policy-statement.pdf.
EPA Finalizes Carbon Capture and Sequestration Rules
03 Dec 2010
On November 22, 2010, EPA finalized two rules related to carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). The rules are designed to protect drinking water and to track the amount of carbon dioxide that is sequestered geologically. The drinking water protection rule requires the development of a new class of injection well called Class VI. EPA also finalized a rule that requires facilities that carry out geologic sequestration to report the amount of greenhouse gases captured and stored under the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.
Learn more at: http://water.epa.gov/type/groundwater/uic/wells_sequestration.cfm
Partnership to Reduce the Environmental Footprint of Sooner State Visitors
16 Sept 2010
Oklahoma City - People coming to visit Oklahoma will soon have a method to lower the environmental footprint of their trip while promoting natural resource conservation through a new initiative announced today by the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department (OTRD) and the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD).
"We are extremely excited about this new partnership with Tourism," said Sarah Pope, Director of OACD's Carbon Initiative. "By working together we can help folks offset their carbon emissions and other environmental impacts produced from traveling by offering them credits generated by conservation practices that sequester carbon while protecting our soil, water, air and wildlife habitats. This is a great program and a big win for the environment."
Under the terms of the agreement, the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department will sell an ECOpass through the webstore on www.TravelOK.com.
The ECOpass is available in $5, $15, and $30 denominations which equates to different levels of carbon credits that are created by practices such as no-till farming and strip-till farming, grass plantings, tree plantings and improved pasture management. All of these practices are encouraged by the Conservation Districts of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to reduce non-point source pollution in water, conserve soil, improve wildlife habitat and sequester carbon.
Research shows that these improvements to the land can store or 'sequester' anywhere from .5 to 1.2 metric tons of carbon in soil per acre, per year, helping reduce overall carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere while addressing other natural resource concerns. Landowners who undertake these practices have the ability to sell these carbon credits through the OACD Oklahoma Carbon Initiative with verification provide by the Oklahoma Conservation Commission Carbon Program. This new partnership between OTRD and OACD will allow those coming to Oklahoma who wish to reduce their environmental impact to purchase these credits.
"The Tourism Department works to offer more sustainable choices for visitors traveling in and to Oklahoma," said Hardy Watkins, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. "The ECOpass is a meaningful way to both reduce a traveler's environmental impact while also benefitting Oklahoma farmers and ranchers who are implementing sustainable practices."
OACD President Trey Lam said that this partnership is another way conservation districts and the Oklahoma Conservation Partnership are helping landowners conserve the state's Natural Resources.
"This new initiative with Tourism is a great way to promote conservation of our natural resources, reward good stewardship of the land and highlight the good work that is going on in Oklahoma," Lam said. "By facilitating the sale of these credits to folks who are coming to Oklahoma we are helping promote sustainable tourism while showcasing the ongoing efforts to protect our environment. This is a great program that helps showcase Oklahoma nationally and puts dollars in the pocket of those folks going the extra mile to protect our natural resources. This is a great program and we are excited to be a part of it."
For more information:
Clay Pope, Executive Director, Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts: (405) 699-2087 or email@example.com
Lindsay Vidrine, Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Dept. Lindsay@TravelOK.com or (405)-230-8414
Oklahoma Conservation Commission Selected for USDA Grant Funds
14 Aug 2010
The Oklahoma Conservation Commission has been selected to receive funding from the USDA-NRCS 2010 Conservation Innovation Grant. U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement Thursday, August 12. The Natural Resources Conservation Service received 230 proposals and is awarding nearly 18-million dollars in Conservation Innovation Grants for 61 projects in 43 states and U.S. territories. The Oklahoma Conservation Commission received $303,592 to develop high quality carbon offset verification protocols and quantify water quality improvements of best management practices to ensure the environmental benefits of agricultural carbon offsets. A multi-state grant that also includes Oklahoma was awarded to the Environmental Defense Fund to work on the development of protocols and accounting methods for carbon sequestration on U.S. rangelands.
Oklahoma Carbon Program Approves First Aggregator
8 July 2010
(Oklahoma City, OK – July 7, 2010) - SunOne Solutions, the nation’s largest private developer of agriculture carbon “offset” credit projects, announced today that they have become the first carbon aggregator to be approved by the State of Oklahoma’s Carbon Sequestration Certification Program.
The Oklahoma Carbon Sequestration Certification Program encourages Oklahoma farmers and ranchers to prevent soil erosion, protect water quality, and improve air quality by adopting conservation practices that sequester greenhouse gases. Oklahoma's voluntary carbon program is unique because it is the first to be run by a state agency with statutory authority to verify carbon offsets and provides a mechanism for Oklahomans to take advantage of existing voluntary carbon markets.
Stacy Hansen, the Director of the Oklahoma Carbon Program, stated that “the Oklahoma Conservation Commission is pleased to have SunOne Solutions as the first approved aggregator participating in the Oklahoma Carbon Program.” SunOne Solutions, which was recently ranked the #1 carbon aggregator in North America, already has over 2.5 million acres of clients nationwide, including some of the largest ranches in Oklahoma and Texas.
The company’s regional office, based in Austin TX, is led by James “Kimo” Storke, who has 20 years of energy business experience and 6 years of U.S. military experience. Storke and his team work with farmers and ranchers to help them earn carbon credits through their sustainable land management practices, such as rotational grazing, light and moderate stocking rates, and no-till farming. Farmers and ranchers who qualify for carbon offset credits may benefit financially by selling them on a variety of voluntary, state, and regional carbon markets. Under current systems, farmers and ranchers could make between $1-$3 per acre for sustainable managed farmland, forestland, and rangeland.
"We are proud to be the first carbon aggregator to be formally approved by the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. We encourage Oklahoma farmers and ranchers to contact us to register their land for carbon credits so they can reap additional financial benefits of their sustainable land management," Storke said.
John Hodges, SunOne Solutions’ President, added that “SunOne Solutions is different from other carbon credit companies in that our partnering approach does not require farmers and ranchers to reach in their pocket and cover any project development expenses or take financial risks. Instead, SunOne Solutions covers these upfront costs and allows farmers and ranchers the opportunity to hold their carbon credits and sell them whenever they like market prices.”
Many elected officials and the nation’s largest oil and energy companies are pushing for a mandatory, federal system to reduce our dependence on carbon-based fossil fuels and foreign oil. Their goal is to transition our country to more sustainable, renewable sources of energy, which has become even more important given the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a law supporting carbon credits and the Senate is currently reviewing a similar proposal.
SunOne Solutions LLC is a leader in developing agricultural, land management, and environmental projects for registration and selling on carbon exchange markets. SunOne Solutions' primary focus is on carbon sequestration projects on farmland, forests, grassland, and rangeland in the United States with offices in Alabama, Colorado, Nebraska, and Texas. SunOne Solutions is a member of the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) and the California Climate Action Reserve (CCAR), which are North America’s major carbon offset registration systems. To date, SunOne Solutions has successfully developed over 200 projects on over 2.5 million acres of agricultural and forest land for over 3 million carbon credits. SunOne Solutions' team of professionals has several decades of combined experience in the agricultural, banking, finance, energy, environmental science, and public policy sectors. For more information, please see http://www.sunonesolutions.com.
Forestry Carbon Markets Workshop
9 April 2010
April 17 in Idabel at the Oklahoma Forest Resource Center from 8:30 am to 3 pm
Learn about Carbon Credit Alternatives for Forest Landowners & Fire Suppression and Prevention Activities on Oklahoma’s Forested Lands. Topics include the Oklahoma Carbon Program, current forestry carbon offset projects in SE Oklahoma, and the importance of forestry management plans. Sponsored by Oklahoma Forestry Services (OFS), Oklahoma State University, and the Oklahoma Division Ouachita Society of American Foresters. Registration is $10 and lunch is provided. RSVP is requested. Visit the OFS website for details.
Climate and Loss Mitigation Conference
9 April 2010
May 4 in Norman at the National Weather Center from 9 am to 4pm
Sponsored by the Oklahoma Insurance Department and the Oklahoma Climatological Survey. Cost is $20. Register by April 30. For more details visit the Oklahoma Insurance Department website.
Land Management 101
9 April 2010
June 8, 15, 22, 29 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the OSU Oklahoma County Extension Office (930 N. Portland, Oklahoma City)
This short course by OSU Extension will cover grazing management, wildlife management, timber management, and prescribed fire. These are all important land management tools, even for owners of smaller tracts of land. Longtime land managers as well as inexperienced landowners are welcome. The registration fee is $250, and the deadline to sign up is May 1. For more information, contact Dwayne Elmore at (405) 744-9636 or Dwayne.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor's Note: This course does not specifically address management for carbon sequestration, but there may be overlap. For example, grazing management is key to rangeland carbon sequestration and is required for carbon contracts.
Year 1 Verification Completed for Carbon Pilot Program
9 April 2010
In 2009, twenty-two producers in the North Canadian River Watershed Carbon Pilot Program sequestered 3,698 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) on 9,290 acres of no-till, grasslands, and riparian buffers. The practices were verified by the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. Producers signed up for the EPA 319 Water Quality Project with eligible practices were eligible for carbon payments from Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC), primary sponsor of the Pilot Program. The Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts aggregated for WFEC. The Carbon Pilot Program is located in west central Oklahoma in the North Canadian River watershed between Canton Dam and Lake Overholser. Carbon credit payments bundled with cost-share payments for voluntary conservation practices reward Oklahoma agriculture producers for sequestering carbon while protecting water quality. The purpose of the Pilot Program was to test the Oklahoma Carbon Program model prior to launching the Program.
Oklahoma Carbon Program Accepting Applications
26 March 2010