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Ferment Over Carbon Offsets

House officials are well aware of Rep. Vernon Ehlers’ distaste for the carbon offset market — the Michigan Republican loudly criticized Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard when he bought $89,000 worth of offsets last year in an effort to make the House carbon-neutral.

[IMGCAP(1)]Last week, Ehlers was at it again, pushing through an anti-carbon offsets amendment for a bill that provides grants and low-interest loans to public schools that make environmentally friendly improvements.

In a “Dear Colleague” letter, Ehlers argued that schools might try to buy carbon offsets to reduce the carbon footprint reported to the state.

“While I support reducing carbon footprints,” he wrote, “using these federal funds to buy carbon offsets is the wrong approach. Green construction funding should be used directly on school building modification, which will result in long-term carbon reductions.”

The House passed his amendment 397 to 17, prompting his spokeswoman, Salley Collins, to wonder why the same Members have allowed the House to spend money for the same purpose.

“Where were they when we were screaming bloody murder about the House of Representatives purchasing bogus offsets?” she said.

Since Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) initiated the Green the Capitol project, several Republicans have criticized some of its initiatives as a waste of taxpayer money.

But Beard has maintained that the offset purchase was necessary to meet the goal of being carbon-neutral by the end of this year, and he has touted other benefits of the project, including composting and energy-efficient light bulbs.

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