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In July 2008, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)'s Office of Natural and Human Environment (HEPN) selected the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) to participate in a carbon sequestration pilot program (CSPP). Through the CSPP, FHWA intends explore the feasibility of state DOTs reducing and sequestering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in vegetation within highway rights-of-way (ROW). Under the pilot program, NMDOT is conducting a four-year, $2 million research initiative to quantify the amount of atmospheric carbon that grasslands along highway ROW can sequester. The protocol that will result should be applicable to DOTs nationwide.

The pilot program's success centers on the DOT’s ability to measure and then divest the carbon captured. Options for divestiture are (1) selling carbon credits on an appropriate GHG market or registry for revenue, (2) using carbon credits to offset the DOT’s emissions, or (3) using the credits toward meeting statewide objectives. It is anticipated that the ITS applications will facilitate the measurement and mitigation of GHG in the transportation sector.

Markets for trading "carbon credits," or offsets, are in the early stages of development. The Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and Western Climate Initiative (WCI) are examples of few market based carbon trading initiatives [1, see footnote].

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Federal Highway Administration
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Carbon Sequestration Pilot Program: Implementation and Next Steps
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