The Alaska House’s Republican-led bi-partisan majority is set to discuss legislation that would set aside vast swaths of state land for carbon credit purchases. Introduced by Gov. Mike Dunleavy, the idea is to generate revenue for the state by allowing outside companies to purchase carbon credits in Alaska’s wilderness.

Carbon credits are a key feature of the global environmental push aimed at reducing CO2 emissions around the world to fight perceived damages that may result from “climate change” or “global warming.”

Under this proposal, businesses and corporations are graded according to their carbon footprint, or how much CO2 they emit annually. Those deemed to be emitting too much CO2 are then required to offset their emissions by purchasing carbon credits. Failure to do so could result in fines and penalties, depending on where those businesses are located around the world, and what sanctions have been imposed in various regions.

Under Dunleavy’s proposal, Alaska would contribute to this system by allowing companies to purchase carbon credits by leasing state land, which is then placed under strict environmental covenants.

Rep. Ben Carpenter (R-Nikiski), who chairs the Legislative Budget & Audit Committee, said he will undertake a detailed analysis of the governor’s proposal, beginning Feb. 10.

“As my colleagues and I review Governor Dunleavy’s carbon capture proposals, we will use the State Constitution and the long-term well-being of Alaskans as a guide,” Carpenter explained. “The Alaska Legislature has an obligation to maximize Alaska’s resources, and we will carefully consider future economic growth and resource development opportunities against any short-term gains accordingly.”

He added that he “complicated nature” of carbon plan requires his committee to provide the Legislature with subject matter expertise to answer their questions. He also noted that the plan is not without controversy.

“I have received carbon policy feedback from concerned Alaskans and would also like to make clear that, while not a feature of Governor Dunleavy’s current proposals, I oppose any legislation that taxes businesses for carbon generation that would pass on costs to consumers,” he said. “I also oppose any effort to assess a tax on an individual or family’s carbon footprint.”

Rep. Tom McKay (R-Anchorage), who chairs the House Resources Committee, said he believes the state needs to look at new ways to generate more revenue.

“Carbon offset projects may just be part of the solution,” he said. “However, we owe it to the citizens of our state to provide due diligence and explore the effects of the Governor’s proposals.”

The carbon credit plan, House Bill 50, will be discussed in the House Resources committee on Friday, Feb. 10, at 1 p.m. There will not be a public comment period, but Alaskans can watch the meeting here.

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Alaska House Majority to explore governor’s controversial carbon credit plan

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.