Making Connections that Create Environmental Balance

Making Connections that Create Environmental Balance

Making Connections that Create Environmental Balance

Our planet is a world of give and take to find environmental balance.  If you cut down a tree, plant two new ones.  If your production process emits greenhouse gases, consider voluntarily reducing them or investing in carbon offset projects.  If you travel for business, consider purchasing carbon offsets that make your carbon footprint neutral.  At ClimeCo, we love helping companies, manufacturers, industry sectors and even rock bands come together to support each other to find that environmental balance.  Currently, we are working to connect an industry we have supported since day one and a state that started it all with Cap and Trade.

Supporting a Big Industry

Did you know that agriculture is California’s number one industry, which brings billions of dollars into the state?  From grapes grown in Napa Valley to almonds in Sacramento Valley, California farmers feed 13% of the US population.  California has almost 80,000 farms that produce more than 400 commodities.  They are the leading state in cash farm receipts and a quarter of what they produce is exported around the world.  (Statistics from

In order to maintain this level of agricultural production, fertilizer is necessary to replenish the nutrients that are lost with each harvest.  California farms use more than a million tons of fertilizer per year to feed their crops to support an abundant harvest.  Fertilizers used in agriculture include nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash.  There are fifteen states in the U.S. that contain nitrogen fertilizer production facilities, yet there are none presently in California, so the state must import fertilizer in order to support its major agricultural sector. All nitrogen fertilizers start from the processing of natural gas and other carbon-based fuels.  The natural gas is transformed into ammonia and then into other nitrogen-based fertilizer products.  That correlates to over two million metric tonnes per year (tpy) of CO2e emissions that are generated by the manufacturing and transportation of fertilizer to California, which the state has a responsibility to mitigate.  This can easily be accomplished by supporting fertilizer-based N2O reduction projects located here in the U.S. 

Greening Up Fertilizer

Nitrous oxide, which is 298 times more potent than carbon dioxide from a global warming potential, is formed from the processing of Nitric Acid, which is the main feedstock for ammonium nitrate, a critical nitrogen-based fertilizer.  To address this, over 10 years ago, the Climate Action Reserve (CAR) adopted the Nitric Acid Protocol, the only fertilizer manufacturing GHG abatement protocol in use in the United States, with significant input from ClimeCo, who served on the Working Group.  We wanted to make a difference and a positive impact on the fertilizer sector by creating scalable greenhouse gas abatement projects.  There are many fertilizer producers who trusted ClimeCo when we had no real track record, and because of our passion and drive, we were able to partner with them to generate great success. These partnerships still exist and have only expanded over time. 

Connecting the Dots

Through the purchase of carbon offsets from fertilizer manufacturing, your company can help green the agricultural supply chain in California.  To date, ClimeCo has developed 100% of North American-based voluntary nitric acid carbon offset projects, representing approximately 15 million tonnes of CO2e abated from this sector, with additional projects currently being installed.

We encourage you to communicate this to your stakeholders or the agencies overseeing your CEQA case file.  ClimeCo is happy to help supply information to assist you with your efforts.  There are insufficient California-based voluntary offsets to meet the current California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) demand and IT IS stalling economic growth in CA.  These projects should be considered equivalent to in-state reductions for all purposes, including those under CEQA.

About the Authors

William “Bill” Flederbach cofounded ClimeCo in 2009 and has grown the business rapidly over the last 10 years.  Before starting ClimeCo, Bill managed air quality at O’Brien and Gere (OBG), worked and managed the international carbon markets at MGM International and AgCert.  He is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University and Smeal College.

Nancy Fuchs Marshall has worked in the environmental engineering market for over 14 years and in the marketing field for 23 years.  Prior to joining ClimeCo, she fostered air, solid waste, wastewater and remediation projects for RMT (now TRC) and Sage Environmental (now ATC) and helped them increase their marketing and business development in the Southeast.  Nancy is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame of Maryland.

More Than Grassland

More Than Grassland

More Than Grassland

Few scenes are more classically American than rolling hills of prairies and grassland. They are, however, more than just a pretty picture. While the importance of grasslands may not be front of mind for some, many Americans rely on them every day.

There are about 528 million acres of privately-owned pasture and rangeland that represent over a quarter of the land in the 48 contiguous United States.[1] Additionally, the federal government holds around 155 million acres that are available for grazing through the Bureau of Land Management.[2]

Ranchers use both public and private grasslands to graze their cattle and sell meat to feed American families. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent analysis, the cattle industry brought nearly $80 billion of gross income in 2015.[3]  But the value is not limited to just the cattle industry – healthy grasslands are an important part of the environment. A balanced grassland ecosystem protects watersheds, which in turn helps to avoid droughts and floods and maintains a clean supply of drinking water. Over 100,000 species make grasslands their home, including birds and pollinators that are an important component of the agricultural system.[4]

Although many people are aware of the economic and environmental value of grasslands, they may not be aware that grasslands are also important in an unexpected way: storing carbon. Grasses do a great job soaking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and through their root system, depositing the carbon into the soil. If the land is not tilled or developed, the carbon will stay there indefinitely. This process makes grasslands a “carbon sink.”

Recently, a study by U.C. Davis found that grasslands serve as an incredibly effective and resilient carbon sink – they can withstand drought, and because they store carbon underground, they will not release as much stored carbon into the atmosphere in the event of a wildfire as do other carbon sinks, like forests.[5] Although this study is limited to California, the message is clear: while there is no question that forests serve as a vital carbon sink around the globe, grasslands are an important piece of the puzzle that is often overlooked.

Despite their incredible value, grasslands are under threat. Only about half of the nation’s native grasslands remain intact, and millions of acres are converted every year.[6] In most cases, grasslands become converted into croplands as prices rise for commodity crops like wheat, corn, and soy.  Some landowners face a difficult decision: maintaining their land as it has been for generations or convert it for a purpose that may be more immediately profitable.

Grasslands have value – they not only keep our environment healthy and clean, but they provide food and livelihood to countless American families. It’s time to acknowledge this value. Companies are stepping up to help reduce their own carbon emissions and are willing to put money towards the value of carbon stored in the soil. They can feel good about the fact that preserving this land not only stores carbon but also provides a suite of other economic and environmental co-benefits.

Creating and selling environmental commodities like carbon credits is complex. ClimeCo leverages the expertise of our environmental commodity staff who have decades of experience developing carbon offset projects for the North American carbon markets. ClimeCo can address a growing need in the marketplace for high-quality carbon offsets based on agricultural land management and the conservation of natural ecological systems. The preservation of native grasslands is an important tool in the protection of our environment against the effects of climate change.

[1] Natural Resources Conservation Service, “Range and Pastureland Overview,” accessed January 21, 2019, [2] Bureau of Land Management, “Livestock Grazing on Public Land,” October 2, 2016, [3] National Agricultural Statistics Service, “Overview of the United States Cattle Industry,” June 24, 2016, [4] United States Forest Service, “Ecosystem Services from National Grasslands,” accessed January 21, 2019, [5] Pawlok Dass et al., “Grasslands May Be More Reliable Carbon Sinks than Forests in California,” Environmental Research Letters 13, no. 7 (2018): 074027,
[6] Anne M. Gage, Sarah K. Olimb, and Jeff Nelson, “Plowprint: Tracking Cumulative Cropland Expansion to Target Grassland Conservation,” Great Plains Research 26, no. 2 (November 23, 2016): 107–16,

About the Author

Lauren Mechak is a Policy Associate at ClimeCo who has more than 5 years of experience in environmental market policy and statistical analysis.  She is a graduate from Duke University where she worked part-time at the Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative to help Duke achieve carbon neutrality and wrote policy briefs for Duke’s Center for Science and Society.