• This blog is maintained by Stephen Filler, a New York-based attorney with expertise in business law, contracts, intellectual property and litigation. He represents a wide variety of businesses, technology, media companies and individuals. He also provides legal and consulting services to sustainable, environmental and renewable energy businesses, non-profit organizations and trade organizations. He is on the board of the New York Solar Energy Industries Association and Secretary of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. His business website is www.nylawline.com.

    The Green Counsel consulting website is www.greencounsel.com.

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Shea Gunther

Great title!

I feel I have to chime in here on this. I was a founder of Renewable Choice Energy, the wind power company that just took Whole Foods 100% wind powered. I'm also starting a company selling more complete Offsets using wind power, newly planted trees, and preserved rain forest. Funny enough, the site is called Offset My Life- no word if we'll have Offset My Ass).

Offsets are real, they are environmentally beneficial, and anything but just a way for us to ease our ecological liberal guilt (though they are excellent at that as well).

The thing to understand is that when a wind farm is built, it's replacing a portion of an unbuilt fossil fuel plant. If we weren't putting so much wind on the grid, the energy would have to come from somewhere- right now that's statistically from burning coal.

Offsets like preserving land and planting new trees are obviously tangible actions that have very real environmental benefits.

Offsets come in different flavors- wind, solar, pollution reduction, planting trees, etc..., but the one thing they all have in common is that they are a market mechanism for reducing pollution. It sounds a little funny to pay someone for the right to pollute (buying credits), but in the long run it works.

Great blog Stephen, keep up the good work,


Stephen Filler


Thanks for your comments. I completely support the work that you and others do to use the market to reach sustainability and make renewable energy viable. In fact we're considering having a "carbon neutral" family event next year that would use "offsets" for both practical and educational purposes.

My question was a genuine one, though, and possibly I dont exactly understand the "offset" concept or I'm being too literal with the term. Let's say I have a choice of driving to a supermarket or walking. Won't there be less CO2 emissions if I walk regardless of whether I pay something to subsidize future development of wind farms? Yes, the future windfarms may obviate the need for future coal plants, but aren't we all better off if I walk (and be more energy efficient generally) AND do things to support wind farm development?

We must develop renewable energy, but we also must be much more energy efficient, and we should be careful to strongly encourage both. I guess the danger with "offsets" is that we that we shouldnt get the idea that we can simply "buy our way into heaven." We must remember that we have to work our way there too through energy efficiency and -- god, forbid! -- energy conservation. As Amory Lovins has pointed out, "negawatts" are our cheapest form of energy and there's still tons of low hanging fruit to go after.

Best of luck with your new company!

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