Santa Monica Airport officials say they are offering travelers using the airport the opportunity to purchase “carbon offsets,” a process of investing monies in activities that would remove the equivalent carbon emissions created by a trip by planting trees, installing solar panels, or other comparable measures.

Airport officials believe the Santa Monica Airport may be the first of its size to offer this new option opportunity on its Web site.

While local airports and jurisdictions cannot set emission standards for the aircraft using their facilities, they can seek to provide awareness of and options for the people flying to and from the airport to address some of the environmental impacts of their flights, officials said. Emission standards are set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in concert with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Some airlines and commercial airports have begun providing a carbon offset option, but Santa Monica Airport appears to be the first general aviation airport to provide a ready link to such opportunities, airport officials said.

The offset purchases go to nonprofit organizations involved in reforestation and alternative energy projects. Officials said the cost of the offsets can be considered modest, but potentially they can have great impact in terms of awareness, investment solutions, and individual responsibility.

To calculate and purchase offsets for flights and for other transportation activities, such as driving, the Santa Monica Airport carbon offset page at www.smgov.net/airport/ has a calculator that will provide a measure of the carbon produced by specific flight, based on distances, the number of passengers to be included and if it’s one way or round trip.

The program is part of a citywide effort to enhance awareness and provide opportunities for individual action in addressing environmental issues.

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