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Valero awards Houston nonprofit $280K for project aimed at protecting Texas wetlands from erosion

If the marsh erodes, it will release carbon in the atmosphere, "and we don't want that."

HOUSTON, Texas — A Houston company received hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money from Valero to help protect coastal wetlands from erosion. 

The non-profit organization BCarbon received a $280,000 grant from Valero that will fully fund a detailed design and carbon credit model for a 1,000-mile living shoreline along the Texas coast, according to a BCarbon news release.  

Carbon credits are a tradeable commodity that represents one ton of carbon dioxide either removed from the atmosphere or prevented from being released into the atmosphere, according to Jim Blackburn, CEO of BCarbon. Carbon credits can come in the form of trees, wetlands, grasslands, prairie lands, and more.

BCarbon will issue carbon credit to the developers of coastal living shorelines. The living shorelines are intended to protect coastal wetlands from the impact of sea-level rise.

The carbon credit BCarbon is focused on is the marsh. The marsh has a tremendous amount of carbon in the soil, and the organization is worried the marsh will be lost as sea levels rise.

“We are trying to keep the erosion of the marsh from happening with the living shoreline,” Blackburn said. “It will protect the marsh from daily southeast winds.”

If the marsh erodes, it will release carbon into the atmosphere. 

"And we don't want that," Blackburn said.

The organization is hoping to allow the marsh to continue for decades into the future.

Blackburn hopes the work the nonprofit is doing will create a new economic structure that will help them do, "a good thing from an ecological standpoint," and protect the ecosystem system at the same time.

“This is a creative effort to restructure the economy to send us in the right direction in the future,” Blackburn said. “We have a chance to set an example here on the Texas coast and we are underway in that.”

The concept of a 1,000-mile living shoreline project was recently released by the Texas Coastal Exchange, in conjunction with BCarbon. The concept of living shorelines calls for the construction of an oyster reef-breakwater system.

BCarbon hopes the system that will protect coastal wetlands from erosion helping Texas coastal wetlands survive for generations into the future. Officials hope the BCarbon project will protect many of the 500,000 acres of the coastal marsh from erosion. 

The Valero funding allows BCarbon to fund researchers to assist in the design of these oyster reef-breakwater systems and a carbon credit protocol. 

Each acre of coastal wetlands represents about 400 tons of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere and currently stored in the soil. 

 Additionally, these marshes are expected to remove and store an additional three to four tons of carbon per acre every year.

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