Who’s responsible for a carbon contract?

An ag lawyer is raising concerns about what landowners are committing to in carbon credit contracts.

Peggy Kirk Hall, Director of Ohio State University Extension’s Agricultural & Resource Law Program, tells Brownfield the legality of the arrangements remains a bit unknown.

“If we’re going to try to make sure that this carbon sequestration is sustained over a long period of time, and some of them do have that in the agreement—it needs to be a permanent sequestration of the carbon, how do we enforce that and who’s responsible?” she questions.

Kirk Hall says if the commitment lies with the land, it should be treated more like an easement, otherwise, the contract holder has the legal responsibility to uphold an agreement.  She says more clarity is needed.

“And then have the legal infrastructure in place that deals with whichever answer we decide is the correct answer so that we have more certainty in how these contracts will play out into the future,” she says.

Kirk Hall says USDA’s Carbon Credit Assistance Program will help add more definition, but state laws or easements would provide long-term sustainability for carbon sequestration efforts.

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