I’m not generally in favor of environmental offsets. In some cases they offer a way to ease a guilty conscience – buy a plane ticket, donate to an environmental organization. Or, at least from what I’ve seen around here, it gives developers an easy way to get off the environmental hook.

An article in today’s offers a good example of how this can work to everone’s benefit. Without going into a lot of detail, the story is that Central Maine Power wants to do major work on its transmission lines – build new substations, clear the land around their lines. The problem is, it’s going to cause some environmental Maine Sunday Telegram disruption.

To offset the damage, Central Maine Power has been buying up parcels of land to be set aside as conservation areas. These aren’t just any old stray pieces of land, but areas that local conservation groups have been trying to protect for many years. In some cases, the company is setting aside substantial money to help manage the properties.

This is the way it should be done, and Central Maine Power deserves a lot of credit for good corporate citizenship.