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San Jacinto County News

Carbon credit brokers contacting landowners

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Cover crops qualify as a carbon offset project when considering carbon credits. Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Paul DeLauneCover crops qualify as a carbon offset project when considering carbon credits. Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Paul DeLaune

By Matthew R. March,
MNRD

Polk County Extension Agent

Carbon credit may be more than a buzz word among Texas agriculture producers. Producers and landowners across the state’s agriculture spectrum are increasingly reaching out to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service for advice on carbon credit contracts. Tiffany Lashmet, J.D., AgriLife Extension agricultural law specialist with the Texas A&M Department of Agricultural Economics, Amarillo, said she has been getting daily phone calls on this topic, especially since it is new territory and there are so many unknowns about it. A carbon credit is equal to 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide emission reductions from an unregulated source, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Carbon offsets cannot be required by law. They are purchased by entities or people to mitigate their carbon footprints, and are transacted in the carbon market using serial numbers to avoid double counting. “We’re getting calls from landowners, producers and industry groups around the state,” Lashmet said. “There are a number of brokers and companies offering carbon contracts on Texas land right now. Farmers, rancher and rural landowners are trying to evaluate these contracts to determine if they are a good move for their operation.” First and foremost, Lashmet said as with any agreement, several legal and economic issues should be carefully considered by producers before entering into a carbon contract. “The most important advice I can offer is to carefully read the entire contract,” she said. “Never rely on verbal representations made by anyone related to a contract; assume only the written contractual terms will be enforceable. “This is new territory and many unknowns exist about the carbon market and these carbon agreements. I highly recommend engaging an attorney to review any carbon contract prior to signing.”

Understanding some of the basic concepts related to carbon contracts is an important starting place, Lashmet said. Each contract will likely have specific definitions of terms, so it is critical for landowners and producers to carefully review the definitions in any contract before signing. Terms like additionality, carbon market, carbon practices, carbon credit, carbon emissions, carbon sequestration, permanence, stacking and verification each have a specific meaning within a contract and must be analyzed and understood. Lashmet discusses these terms and evaluating carbon contracts in detail in her Texas Agriculture Law Blog. She outlines key contract terms to consider for landowners, farmers and ranchers who are considering a contract or who have been contacted to discuss one. For more information on carbon contracts, Lashmet also converses in one of her Ag Law in the Field podcast episodes with Todd Janzen and Anson Howard, both practicing attorneys actively negotiating these agreements for their clients.

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Texas farmer asks Abbott for support

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PureWater GraphicBy Van Weldon
Guest correspondent

CLEVELAND — After 22 years farming produce about 50 miles north of Houston, Van Weldon found himself, with neighboring farms and families in a battle to keep ground water pristine. 

With the Sam Houston National Forest being the natural cleanser for shallow groundwater wells in the area, the question of water quality for irrigation and drinking has never been an issue. However, a group of investors is seeking permission to build a landfill facility nearby.

The landfill — Peach Creek Environmental Park — is to be located about 7 miles northwest of Cleveland. 

The Mississippi-based owners have a permit request in front of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, to be built on land abutting that owned by Weldon for the Wood Duck Farm.

Area residents began researching implications that come with a landfill, such as smell, water contamination, traffic congestion and road deterioration, as well as what other farms in different parts of Texas did when a landfill attempted to move into their neighborhood. 

One such issue involves the possibility of up to 300 garbage trucks each day traveling to the landfill, past some of Weldon’s strawberry fields. The Food Safety Modernization Act, however, points out that “there have been far too many foodborne illness outbreaks possibly linked to pre-harvest agricultural water in recent years, including water coming from lands nearby produce farms.” 

Another issue is wildlife, specifically seagulls, which are attracted to landfills for the easy food access. Weldon said that birds are so prevalent at landfills, and a risk for airplanes, that federal laws prohibit landfills being built near airports. 

He pointed to studies about the impact of birds on farms, which would be significant, and detrimental to his fruit gardens through contamination.

Water contamination also is a huge concern, Weldon said. Storm water runoff could be a potential source of pathogens, and under certain conditions, the landfill will be able to discharge leachate from storage tanks into the nearby Jayhawker Creek, which drains into Lake Houston.

Weldon said no laws prevent landfills from being placed near national forests or in floodplains. 

“You’ve heard the phrase putting lipstick on a pig? Here’s a good example,” he said. “These investors are taking a sour real estate deal and turning it into a landfill.”

Weldon and others have sought help from numerous agencies over the past few months, including the Texas Farm Bureau, area legislators, and even the San Jacinto County Commission.

Weldon said he even gave a speech  in which he exhorted Gov. Greg Abbott to help him and other area landowners in their quest; according to his research, landfill permits in Texas have a 94 percent approval rate.

“One reason for this high approval rate may come from the strong ‘solid waste lobby’ that helps keep state legislation in Austin ‘waste disposal industry friendly,’” he said. 

Weldon said that his goal isn’t to shut down the landfill, but to urge the company to seek a more suitable site.

“We realize that landfills are necessary in today’s world, but we think that a better location exists,” he said. “Whether you’re a tree hugger or a deer hunter, this landfill location just doesn’t make any sense. So far, almost 2,000 public comments have been sent to the TCEQ, not one public comment speaking in favor for the landfill.”

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Plane crashes on highway

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Courtesy photo  A Beechcraft airplane made an emergency landing after suffering a power failure on Thursday on U.S. 59. During the landing, the plane struck a vehicle; however, no injuries were reported.A Beechcraft airplane made an emergency landing after suffering a power failure on Thursday on U.S. 59. During the landing, the plane struck a vehicle; however, no injuries were reported. (Courtesy Photo)

SJNT staff

SAN JACINTO COUNTY — No injuries were reported in a plane-vehicle crash that occurred at about 2:15 p.m. Thursday on U.S. 59.

The accident had the southbound lanes approximately four miles north of Cleveland closed for several hours.

According to information provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety, at approximately 2:15 p.m., a Beechcraft BE36 fixed-wing aircraft was traveling from Jennings, La., to Junction, Texas, when the aircraft reportedly suffered a power failure.

The aircraft completed an emergency landing on US 59 and struck a 2004 Toyota SUV, which was traveling south, with its landing gear. It then came to rest in a nearby field, the report states.

The pilot, identified as 37-year-old Kendall John Krielow of Thibodeaux, La., and two passengers were not injured.

The driver of the SUV, identified as 51-year-old Towhid Aziz Chowdhury of Katy, also was not injured.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been contacted, and the crash remains under investigation.

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Students compete for bookmarks

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Students Compete For Bookmarks

Special to the News-Times

 SHEPHERD — Shepherd ISD started a bookmark contest at the Shepherd Middle School library six years ago, which has blossomed into the competition it is now. 

Students love using bookmarks, and grew to love the contest just as much; they enjoy seeing a bookmark that they or someone they know created being handed out through our own library. 

Every student has the opportunity to participate. We ask them to follow simple rules: Make your bookmark about reading or books, make them colorful, If you use a quote give the author credit but have fun creating them. 

This year we invited everyone from the Administration building, the MS administration, the Technology Department and the Special Education Department to judge our bookmarks.

Each of the first-place winners will get 25 copies of their bookmarks to share with their families and friends plus a gift certificate to spend at our book fair.

The rest of the bookmarks we put out for students in our library.

bookmark leftbookmark Right

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FCCLA hosts food drive

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Shepherd ISD FCCLA students prepare gallons of milk for distribution. (Courtesy Photos)Shepherd ISD FCCLA students prepare gallons of milk for distribution. (Courtesy Photos)

SHEPHERD — Shepherd ISD hosted a breakfast mobile food drive for the community, and the Shepherd High School FCCLA students helped by volunteering to pack and load the food.  

Thanks to the Houston Food Bank for supplying the food so that we were able to give it out to the community.  

SISD is grateful for these students; this program provides an opportunity for students to learn and grow into valuable members of society. They develop life skills as they get immersed in activities that are outside of their comfort zones.  

Volunteering is more than spending one’s time actively participating in selfless acts or activities that benefit other people. It has a greater impact on society as a whole. Volunteers are of great help to the community as they immerse themselves in a pool of opportunities.

FCCLA students help load cars with food from the Shepherd ISD food drive.FCCLA students help load cars with food from the Shepherd ISD food drive.

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