While Congress ponders the merits of cap-and-trade legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, companies nationwide are scrambling to figure out how to cash in on the process. But smaller family farms could become lost in the convoluted maze of carbon credit markets. That’s where the work of Sarah Seigfreid, EnvE’09, can help.
As part of a research project she completed while studying at Missouri S&T, Seigfreid outlined a seven-step approach to help small-farm owners better understand carbon credit markets, where companies can buy and sell credits earned for efforts to prevent the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Companies and individuals sell their credits through exchange markets such as the Chicago Climate Exchange. Farmers may earn carbon credits in a variety of ways, from capping methane-emitting lagoons to planting more trees or adjusting grazing techniques. “Carbon capture on a small farm is a financially attractive thing to do,” Seigfreid says.
Seigfreid, who describes her research as “carbon credits for the little guy,” worked with Joel Burken, professor of civil and environmental engineering, on the project through the university’s Opportunities for Undergraduate Research Experience program. She now works for Peabody Energy at the company’s El Segundo and Lee Ranch coal mines in Grants, N.M.