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Carbonfund.org Retroactively Adds Offsets for Landfill Project

landfill-methane2A landfill is receiving carbon offsets for emissions that were avoided in 2008. Carbonfund.org is certifying the carbon offset project by Casella Waste Systems Inc for a process to capture methane emitted by a landfill in New York.

The Clinton County Landfill Methane Project, near Plattsburgh, N.Y., is receiving credit for methane diverted from January through September 2008, according to a press release. During that time, about 100,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions were avoided, or the same as that emitted by 18,300 cars.

The landfill, which has a system to burn the gas, accepts up to 175,000 tons of solid waste annually.

Carbonfund.org is touting this as the first-ever such project approved by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Leaders program. The approval process began in February of 2009, said Ivan Chan, director of marketing and communications for Carbonfund.org.

The reason that the offsets are being added retroactively has to do with EPA certifying the emissions reduction over a set period of time that must be monitored, Chan said.

Recent improvements at the landfill include a generator that converts the methane into electricity, providing up to five megawatts of power, or enough to power 5,000 homes in the area.

Methane is about 23 times more potent than CO2, according to the release.

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4 thoughts on “Carbonfund.org Retroactively Adds Offsets for Landfill Project

  1. 100,000 tons offset for 10 months seems a bit high for a site that is accepting 145,000 tons during that same 10 months (10 months of the annual 175,000 tons). That seems to suggest that 2/3 of the waste turns into methane. I’m sure I have something wrong here…

  2. Daniel,

    It is confusing how that statement about the offsets generated was written. While it is true that 100,000 tons of offsets have been generated from this project, they are metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), not tons of methane. One ton of methane is equivalent to about 23 tons of CO2e because it is is a much more potent greenhouse gas. So doing some simple math, you can calculate that the total captured methane emissions are about 4,300 metric tons.

    Sorry for the confusion. Hope this clears it all up.


  3. At best there is no methane-CO2 benefit, since that Methane was already being converted to CO2 in a flare, identicaly to that from the generator. It is true that some CO2 was avoided at the public utility whose electricity was displaced. But if just 4% more CH4 was allowed to leak from the landfill as a result of reducing suction to “sweeten” the fuel for the generator, that (with it’s 23X effect) would offset the benefit. There is nothing to stop them from “sweetening” the fuel, and the almighty profit will make them do it.
    Thus, electricity generation from LFGas which superficialy makes sense, is predictably a net loser.

  4. To the last commenter, that doesn’t compute because on the press release itself it says 100,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. But the article has it wrong by saying methane. It’s commonly understood that GHG emissions are expressed in CO2 equiv. Doing the math, together w/ the fact that it’s emissions *avoided* from what would’ve been emitted by that type of landfill you get what they claim.

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