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A Houston lawyer is counting on big corporations to protect the Texas coast

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News Tech: One of the most potent partners in the fight to decrease and store carbon dioxide emissions is mother nature.

A Houston environmental lawyer claimed to have discovered a means to save these vulnerable regions of the state while making it profitable for large corporations to contribute to the cause.

Although erosion and sea level rise pose a threat to our coastal marshlands, they are an essential part of that process.

According to attorney Jim Blackburn, “this is where the economy is going, and it’s a new economy for agriculture in Texas, for coastal land owners.” It contributes to a new carbon economy and the preservation of the Texas coast.

“The marshes are the key to the fisheries of the Texas coast. Shrimp, blue crabs, flounder all use the marsh as a nursery,” said Blackburn. “Every acre of the marsh has about 400 tons of carbon that’s been deposited in the soil.”

Blackburn said if the marshlands are destroyed, all the carbon in the soil gets released back into the atmosphere. “We’re going to build oyster reefs to protect the wetlands and in the process keep carbon dioxide from being released,” said Blackburn.

Blackburn said the Valero Energy Corporation is funding the study needed to create a system where companies can purchase carbon credits that will help fund the construction of this living shoreline. Blackburn created a non-profit company called B-Carbon, which issues the credits. “Which, they’ll basically put in their annual reports, those types of things, about how they’re reducing their carbon footprint,” said Blackburn.

As for the living shoreline, the idea is to deposit rocks or bricks near the coastline and then seed the reefs with oyster spat. Oyster reefs then grow and anchor the structures to the sea-bed, protecting the shoreline from getting chewed away by wind, waves and rising sea levels. “To sustain coastal fisheries, to sustain coastal birds, to sustain all of those things we as people really enjoy,” said Lalise Mason with Scenic Galveston, Inc. and Texas Coastal Exchange.

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Mason, along with an army of volunteers, helped construct stone reefs to protect the shoreline from erosion. Marsh-grass was then planted, which helps anchor the sediment and prevents carbon stored in the soil from being released.  

“Its first and primary function was to protect this coastal prairie peninsula,” said Mason. Mason already spearheaded a similar project to protect Virginia Point, which is next to the Galveston causeway.

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