The Bond Buyer: Muni bonds for firefighting firm aid smooth flight to SPAC equity deal

Kestrel provided a Second Party Opinion for Bridger Aerospace’s Sustainability Bonds with proceeds that will be used to purchase two SuperScooper planes for firefighting, among other activities. Wildfires pose a significant threat to human health and wildlife, in addition to releasing large amounts of CO2 from severe, stand-replacing fires. By increasing the size of its fleet and improving operational facilities, Bridger will be better equipped to reduce the negative environmental impacts of large wildfires across the US.

The Connecticut Green Bank is targeting retail investors with the latest issuance of Green Liberty Notes. Proceeds will finance loans made to small businesses for energy efficiency upgrades and retrofits as part of the Small Business Energy Advantage program that is a component of the Energize CT initiative. Kestrel has provided multiple external reviews on the Green Bank’s Green Bonds, Climate Bonds, and associated post-issuance reports that document environmental and social impacts.

Kestrel provided a Second Party Opinion for a Social Bonds designation for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the largest Social, Green, or Sustainability Bond issuance in the municipal market to date. The bonds will be used to repay outstanding federal advances borrowed to pay unemployment insurance benefits which spiked in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and replenish the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to pay for future benefits. The Unemployment Insurance Program plays a critical role in delivering economic relief to individuals and families experiencing financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The American Forest Foundation issued its first Green Bonds in July to finance the Family Forest Carbon Program. The program provides incentive payments to individual landowners in Central Appalachia to encourage the reduction of timber harvests and promote the growth of mature forests as a means to reduce CO2 emissions significantly over the contract periods. All projects and carbon offsets generated as a result of the changes in management practices will be verified under an approved methodology and certified by Verra. Kestrel provided a Second Party Opinion on the Green Bonds which align with the Environmentally Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources project category in the Green Bond Principles.

Kestrel provided a Sustainability Bond Second Party Opinion for Gallatin County’s June 2022 bond issuance. Bridger Aerospace Group, LLC intends to use bond proceeds to acquire four CL-415EAF Super Scooper planes to combat wildfires in the Western United States. The Super Scoopers will pick up water from nearby lakes and rivers and release onto active wildfires. This method of wildland firefighting will save lives, reduce risk to vulnerable populations (which are disproportionately affected by wildfire disasters), minimize negative public health impacts from poor air quality associated with wildfires, and enhance wildfire response without the use of harmful chemicals to suppress fires. These projects fall under two eligible project categories as defined by the Green Bond Principles and the Social Bond Principles: Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and Natural Disaster Response.

Kestrel provided an external review for Harvard University’s first Green Bond in April 2022 for the new Science and Engineering Complex and renovations to Adams House and Soldiers Field Park student housing. The Science and Engineering Complex is a state-of-the-art building that achieved LEED Platinum certification and Living Buildings Challenge Certification. The housing complexes will achieve LEED Gold certification and align with Harvard’s green building standards. The facilities and renovations funded by the green bonds advance Harvard’s comprehensive commitments to sustainability.

The City of Saint Paul and the Saint Paul Port Authority partnered to issue Sustainability Bonds to finance the replacement of dead, dying, or at-risk Ash trees as a result of the area’s Emerald Ash Borer infestation. The bonds will finance the replanting of new trees throughout St. Paul and support the City’s removal of stumps left behind from previous removals. As trees provide innumerable benefits to people and communities, the project is imperative for the health and sustainability of communities and urban forests in St. Paul. Kestrel provided a Second Party Opinion on the Sustainability Bonds designation for the positive impact of the projects on low-income communities and the environmental benefits of urban forests.

The Regents of the University of Michigan issued their first Green Bonds in March 2022. The University will use proceeds from the General Revenue Bonds (Taxable) (Green Bonds) to establish an innovative new energy revolving fund that will set aside funding for energy efficient projects presented by students and faculty, building projects anticipated to receive LEED Silver and LEED Platinum certifications, a geothermal heating system, and electric bus fleets, among other projects. The financed projects are a testament to the University’s commitment to sustainability and forward-thinking climate action.

The Indianapolis Local Public Improvement Bond Bank issued its first Green Bonds in March 2020, raising more than $50 million for improvements to the city’s stormwater infrastructure. The bonds fund stormwater system improvements that integrate nature-based solutions like hybrid ditches, use green space in city parks to manage water flow, and restore stream channels through daylighting closed creeks. Kestrel Verifiers provided a Second Party Opinion on the designation and determined that the bonds align with the Green Bond Principles and multiple UN Sustainable Development Goals by financing sustainable stormwater infrastructure.