What is a conscientious person (or business) to do?
The first two steps are clear:
1. REDUCE your emissions by reducing your fossil fuel consumption via energy efficiency and conservation. Our Cost-Share and Direct-Install programs can help.
2. Replace remaining fossil fuel use by generating your own RENEWABLE energy to the degree possible.
3. Then and only then, consider RECYCLING some of your saved energy dollars locally, through purchasing local offsets, or other types of emissions reductions efforts.
We’ll address some of the criticisms of offsets as an emission reduction tool in discussing the destination of Oneota Tag funds, and the source of their figures. But we should also note that a major strength of local projects is their multiple benefits:
- Emissions reductions from *local* projects, where the local light of day isn’t an absolute guarantee of integrity but is certainly a powerful disinfectant of many common offset problems. We’ll keep good records and report the data and progress within 6 months, and at least every year thereafter. We’re always open to questions, and you’ve even welcome to join us “in the field” as a volunteer Energy Corp member.
- Local economic development and stimulus benefits, through not only the local reinvestment of offset funds but the multiplier effect of those projects and of the annual savings in energy dollars now prevented from flowing out of the local economy. See this brief Department of Energy fact sheet for more on the benefits of plugging the energy leaks in local economies (it includes a feature on Osage, IA).
- Social and educational benefits that accrue from local leadership and partnerships in energy issues; the involvement of local volunteers, students, contractors, and the general public in retrofit activities; and the evolution of community attitudes and ethics that may come from a local offset program being part of a vast array of locally-led, long-term participatory energy efforts.
The concept of offsets, while fraught with implementational and moral problems, also holds potential economic integrity in this interconnected world. We believe the real power of offsets is local, and we hope you’ll join us in transitioning Winneshiek County towards both energy and carbon independence.