From Tribune 2001 a Colville Tribal Logging truck shows off a six log load

NESPELEM—The Colville Business Council approved two resolutions read off from the Management and Budget Committee Chair Billy Nicholson in Special Session that promise the sell of potential carbon offset credits to British Petroleum in a 100-year contract, today, May 21.

The first resolution approves a limited waiver of sovereign immunity that enables the Colville Tribes to apply to list potential carbon credits with the California Air Resources Board through California’s Cap-and-Trade Program. The second approves an agreement with BP to sale any listed credits with the international company.

Both Jack Ferguson, Keller District, and Nancy Johnson, Nespelem District, voted against the resolutions that both passed 6-2.

“I do want to state for the record that this is a great opportunity for the tribe, but for myself, I felt a little rushed in this,” said Ferguson. “It’s a great opportunity. It’s a new market. I think we can do great things with the revenue we’re bringing in.”

“I just want to state as well I felt rushed,” said Johnson. “I talked to a couple of constituents that felt like the market is still maturing.”

Colville Tribal Attorney Chaitna Sinha and Colville Tribal Land and Property Director Cody Desautel, along with Sinha’s co-counsel Jennifer Weddle via conference call, discussed the agreement in M&B, May 20, focusing on an expected change to come to the California Air Resource Board’s listing protocol on June 22.

According to Desautel, Sinha and Weddle, by getting the carbons listed before June 22 the tribe benefits dramatically.

“This is a potential commercial advantage for the tribe to get grandfathered in with more favorable terms,” said Weddle.  “This is going to be a good market driver that will be burdened by the later regulatory scheme. By getting in now, there are time pressures, but it increases marketability for the tribe and increases the value.”

Answering a concern from Ferguson, Sinha explained the cost of listing and marketing carbon credits without BP’s participation would be significantly more expensive and uncertain.

“I’m in favor of this,” said CBC Ricky Gabriel. “It’s a new market. It’s a new world. Opportunities like that don’t come to tribes in general.”

“This is an opportunity we have as the second largest timber tribe in the country,” said Nicholson. “I don’t know how many times I’ve asked Cody, ‘We can still cut 80 million board feet?’ Yes. We can go up to 100 MBF if we ever need to.”

According to Nicholson, the deal could place approximately $80 million into an account for the Tribes.

“Right now, we’re earning 7 percent on some of our investment funds. Even just 5 percent of $80 million would be $4 million annually to the tribe,” said Nicholson.

Though the recommendations both moved through committee with unanimous support, Ferguson and Mel Tonasket, Omak District, expressed concerns of liability and currently unknown numbers. Tonasket was not in attendance during today’s Special Session.

“Being from the Colville Tribes, it sure seems like we end up on that end of the stick a lot,” said Ferguson. “We’re always at the minimum. We’re always in dire situations somehow. That’s why I’m a little resistant. I’ve been proved since I’ve been on Council that we’re at the top of our game. I’m not going to stand in the way of progress, but I have questions.”

(1) comment

Joseph Miller

Is it really for a 100 years? And it does seem like we are rushing into this. Is it to sell our unused carbon credits or to allow the cutting of more timber?

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