Updates to the ARB US Forest Compliance Offset Protocol
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) recently completed the first phase of updating several Compliance Offset Protocols, including the U.S. Forest Protocol. A draft version of the US Forest Protocol was made publicly available in June 2014.
ARB staff solicited and incorporated input from stakeholders into the proposed version released along with the staff report for public review on July 29, 2014. The formal 45-day public comment period began on August 1, 2014, and the new Compliance Offset Protocol along with the proposed amendments to the Regulation were considered at the September 18, 2014 Board hearing.
Several changes were incorporated and approved in this update, however the California Air Resources Board voted to delay the decision to implement proposed updates to the common practice values in the assessment area data file and associated site classifications in the US Forests Compliance Offset Protocol. Recent efforts by the American Carbon Registry and project developers were successful in bringing attention to the implications of this proposed change, which resulted in the Board decision to delay implementation. The Board has instead decided to include this revision in the upcoming Regulatory Review Update, which is scheduled to be presented to the ARB Board at the December 2014 Board meeting.
According to ARB staff, an initial draft document including proposed changes to the US Forests Compliance Offset Protocol will be made available to the public on October 21, 2014. This version will include more comprehensive changes to protocol language, and will also include the provisions for updating the assessment area data file and site classification groupings that dictate High and Low site class designations.
Following the October 21 release of the proposed changes, interested members of the public will have 45 days to review and make comments to ARB. The Board will then convene on December 11-12, 2014 where they will vote to accept these changes as written. If written public comments or public testimony at the board hearings warrant changes, then the Board will direct ARB staff to hold a second 15 day public comment period where draft changes to the protocol will be reviewed by ARB staff.
Following the second comment period, the ARB Board will hold a vote during one of their subsequent board meetings. If approved by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL), the final changes will go into effect at some point in May 2015, allowing projects to list under the most recent version of the forestry protocol until that date.
Register now for the American Carbon Registry's webinar on October 14, 2014 with guest speakers from the California ARB and the US Forest Service (USFS) Forest Inventory Assessment (FIA) group. Participants will learn about how the FIA data set is collected and updated, how common practice values are generated within this data set and why site class groups are to be reassigned. The presentation will include an overview of the upcoming Regulatory Review Update process. There will be opportunities for the public to ask questions and have them addressed by ARB staff.