The 1,000 Mile Living Shoreline Project Funded by Carbon Credits

May 15, 2022

Can carbon credits fund resilient coastal infrastructure?

On this episode, hosts Peter Ravella and Tyler Buckingham talk with Jim Blackburn, founder and leader of the Texas Coastal Exchange (TCX) and BCarbon, two organizations to protect coastal wetlands and other natural areas to generate and certify carbon offset credits.  In April, TCX announced a plan to construct 1,000-miles of living shoreline projects on the Texas coast funded ultimately through the sale of carbon offset credits.  According to TXC, a nine-mile living shoreline project might cost $4.5 million to construct. However, by protecting coastal wetlands which sequester carbon, that project could generate $19 million from the sale of carbon credits.  BCarbon -- an organization that certifies empirically measured increases in natural carbon stocks for carbon credit trading -- estimates that credits would be valued at $20 per ton. Could coastal wetlands protection projects and other coastal and ocean green infrastructure projects really be self-funding through the sale of carbon offset credits?  Blackburn thinks so and he makes a compelling case.  

Jim Blackburn is a professor in the practice of environmental law in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Rice University, teaching courses in sustainable development and environmental law. He is an environmental planner and practiced environmental law with the Blackburn & Carter law firm in Houston. At Rice, he serves as the co-director of the Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disaster (SSPEED) Center, a faculty scholar at the Baker Institute, and director of the undergraduate minor in energy and water sustainability.  At the SSPEED Center, Mr. Blackburn has been responsible for the development of landscape-scale green-space solutions for surge damage mitigation, including the Lone Star Coastal National Recreation Area, a web-based ecological services exchange and structural alternatives.

He is the author of The Book of Texas Bays (Texas A&M University Press, 2004), which focuses on the environmental health of bays in Texas and efforts undertaken to protect them.

Show Transcription
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Peter Ravella & Tyler Buckingham

Peter and Tyler joined forces in 2015 and from the first meeting began discussing a project that would become Coastal News Today and the American Shoreline Podcast Network. At the time, Peter and Tyler were coastal consultants for Pete’s firm, PAR Consulting, LLC. In that role, they worked with coastal communities in Texas, Florida, and North Carolina, engaged in grant writing, coastal project development, shoreline erosion and land use planning, permitting, and financial planning for communities undertaking big beach restoration projects. Between and among their consulting tasks, they kept talking and kept building the idea of CNT & ASPN. In almost every arena they worked, public engagement played a central role. They spent thousands of hours talking with coastal stakeholders, like business owners, hotel operators, condo managers, watermen, property owners, enviros, surfers, and fishermen. They dived deep into the value, meaning, and responsibility for the American shoreline, segment-by-segment. Common threads emerged, themes were revealed, differences uncovered. There was a big conversation going on along the American shoreline! But, no place to have it. That's where CNT and ASPN were born.