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Trillion Trees Act = Central Forestry Planning (ready for carbon, sustainability credits?)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- March 12, 2020

“The bill would significantly increase logging across America’s federal forests, convert millions of acres into industrial tree plantations, increase carbon emissions, increase wildfire risk, and harm wildlife and watersheds.” (Re: Progressive Letter of Opposition to The Trillion Trees Act, February 25, 2020)

Planning the climate means planning the economy, from energy production and usage to forestry and agriculture. With three trillion trees on earth, and each involved with the carbon cycle, there is much to do for climate planners.

A Republican-introduced climate bill—the 59-page Trillion Trees Act (H.R. 5859)—has rightly been criticized by conservatives and libertarians. But its major thrust and specifics have also attracted trenchant opposition from the Left.

The Proposal

The Trillion Trees Act, introduced by Congressman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), and promoted by President Trump himself, is subtitled

To establish forest management, reforestation, and utilization practices which lead to the sequestration of greenhouse gases, and for other purposes

H.R. 5859 is in conjunction with a United Nations Environment Programme initiative whereby

nations, corporations, and individuals around the globe will contribute to planting one trillion new trees [to] sequester a significant amount of atmospheric carbon and constitute a pragmatic step towards addressing global carbon emissions …. [wherein] the United States will take a leadership role in planting one trillion trees globally.

Details, Details

The Act states its purpose to :

utilize the vast natural assets, robust wood product market, and technical expertise of the United States to plant, manage, and utilize domestic forestland; and incentivize the use of sustainable building products to sequester carbon.

Within two years of passage, the US Secretary of Interior

shall set targets for increased total domestic wood growth for the purposes of capturing and storing carbon. Such targets shall be based on the best available scientific information; consider both naturally regenerated wood growth and planted wood growth; be established at levels which represent the maximum feasible increase in the total wood volume private, State, and Federal landowners can achieve by January 1, 2030, and every 10 years thereafter through January 1, 2100.

If this sounds like subjectivist central planning, it is.

Deep in the bill, the term “reforestation of degraded forestland” is joined by “afforestation of marginal land,” offering logging opportunities for the timber industry [Sec. 105(c)(4)]. Do not think this industry was not represented in the drafting of H.R. 5859….

Just imagine how the political appointments–Trump or post-Trump–could work in different ways regarding this commandment:

The Secretaries [of Interior, of Energy, and of Environmental Protection Agency] shall establish priority areas on covered lands for wildland urban interface protection, watershed protection, critical infrastructure, and wildlife habitat restoration projects.

Taxpayers Beware


shall be allowed as a credit against the tax imposed by this chapter for the taxable year an amount equal to the sustainability percentage of the taxpayer’s purchase price of a qualifying building or residence.

APPLICABLE PERCENTAGE.—For purposes of this section—IN GENERAL. The sustainability percentage with respect to any building or residence shall be a percentage equal to the lesser of the percentage by which the sustainability score for such building or residence exceeds the average sustainability score for the class to which such building or residence belongs, or 25 percent.

(2) SUSTAINABILITY SCORING. IN GENERAL.—Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this section, the Secretary (in consultation with the Secretary of Energy) shall establish a certification process for determining a sustainability score with respect to any building for purposes of the credit allowed under this section, and an average sustainability score for different classes of buildings for purposes of the comparison under subsection (b)(1)(A).

FACTORS FOR SCORE.—Such score shall at least take into account the following factors: ‘The energy required to produce and deliver materials used in construction of the building, measured by the estimated tonnage of carbon emitted. The energy required to operate the building on a yearly basis, measured by an estimate the tonnage of carbon dioxide emitted.

The amount of carbon dioxide retained by the building which could otherwise be released into the atmosphere, taking into account building construction materials and processes and continuing use or disposal of carbon dioxide in connection with the use of the building. The climate in which the building is located

Another tax credit concerns carbon storage:

CARBON STORAGE CERTIFICATION.— Under the certification process established under subsection (b)(2)(A), the Secretaries shall additionally establish a process for certifying to the taxpayer the amount of carbon dioxide stored by a building or residence as determined under (b)(2)(B)(iii).’’

Left Protest

The climate alarmists themselves are afraid that the Trillion Trees Program is too pro-development and not guaranteed to reduce CO2 emissions on net.

Additionally, the Left wants lawmakers to redirect their attention from relatively low-cost and self-interested carbon dioxide (CO2) management strategies to blunt fossil-fuel rationing.

Re: Letter of Opposition to The Trillion Trees Act

Following are salient quotations “Re: Letter of Opposition to The Trillion Trees Act,” addressed to the Honorable Raúl Grijalva, Chair, Committee on Natural Resources, U.S. House of Representatives. (Subsections added).

  1. Unintended Consequences

“While we support ecologically sound tree-planting as a means to increase carbon sequestration and climate adaptation, this legislation presents a false solution for addressing the climate crisis by misallocating resources to focus on industrial logging….”

” … any benefits to the climate from planting tree seedlings would not be realized for many decades until most of the new trees would reach maturity.”

“The bill is focused on increased carbon storage through utilization of forest and wood products and discounts tree mortality and natural disturbances as providing carbon benefits. Yet only a fraction of the carbon stored in a standing tree is sequestered in a final wood product.”

“The bill’s directive to EPA to reflect the carbon neutrality of forest biomass as carbon neutral is not scientifically supported. Burning wood to generate energy puts more CO2 into the atmosphere than burning fossil fuels to create the same amount of energy, because wood has a lower energy density.”

“Theoretically, much of that CO2 can eventually be reclaimed, if the forest is allowed to regrow to its original pre-logged age; that would take decades, however, and in the interim burning biomass increases atmospheric CO2….”

2. Complexity, Uncertain Science

“The bill’s directive to EPA to reflect the carbon neutrality of forest biomass as carbon neutral is not scientifically supported.”

“The bill requires the secretary of Agriculture to develop models to evaluate the lifecycle forest carbon sequestration potential associated with active management of the national forest system. However, among the eight factors listed, the bill makes no mention of several essential factors that must be considered in a scientifically sound carbon lifecycle model [such as] … the amounts of carbon released through logging and milling operations, loss of soil carbon, log transport, eventual building demolition, or wood product decomposition or silvicultural success rates.”

“The bill’s focus on timber production and replanting following logging would increase the acres of plantations on national forests. Research has demonstrated that total ecosystem carbon in plantations is 28% lower than in natural forests. Plantations are also more susceptible to uncharacteristic wildfire.”

“Other studies have shown that extending harvest cycles and reducing cutting on public lands had a larger effect than either afforestation or reforestation on increasing carbon stored in forests in the northwestern United States.”


350 Silicon Valley • 350 Spokane • Alaska Wilderness Action • Alliance for the Wild Rockies • American Bird Conservancy • Anthropocene Alliance • Applegate Neighborhood Network • Bark • Battle Creek Alliance & Defiance Canyon Raptor Rescue • Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project • Bold Alliance • Cascade Forest Conservancy • Cascadia Wildlands • Center for Biological Diversity • Conservation Congress • Conservation Northwest • Defenders of Wildlife • Earth Ethics, Inc. • Earthjustice • Earthworks • Elders Climate Action • Environmental Law & Policy Center • Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology (FUSEE) • Forest Web • Friends of Bell Smith Springs • Friends of Del Norte • Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest • Friends of Plumas Wilderness • Friends of the Bitterroot • Friends of the Clearwater • Friends of the Earth • Friends of the Inyo • Friends of the Kalmiopsis • Friends of the Wild Swan • Geos Institute • Great Old Broads for Wilderness • Greenpeace USA • Heart of the Gila • High Country Conservation Advocates • Hilltown Community Rights • Institute for Carbon Removal Law & Policy, American University • Jefferson State Financial Group • John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute • Kalmiopsis Audubon • Klamath Forest Alliance • Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center • Last Tree Laws • League of Conservation Voters • Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network • Los Padres ForestWatch • Mass Forest Rescue • Massachusetts Forest Watch • Montana Wilderness Association • National Parks Conservation Association • Natural Resources Defense Council • Northcoast Environmental Center • Oil Change International • Old-Growth Forest Network • Oregon Wild • Partnership for Policy Integrity • Public Citizen • Rachel Carson Council • RESTORE: The North Woods • Rocky Mountain Recreation Initiative • Rogue Valley Citizens for Clean Air • Safe Alternatives for our Forest Environment • San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council • Sclerophyll Project • Sheep Mountain Alliance • Sierra Club • Soda Mountain Wilderness Council • South Umpqua Rural Community Partnership • Southeast Alaska Conservation Council • Southern Environmental Law Center • Swan View Coalition • The Enviro Show • The Wilderness Society • Umpqua Watersheds, Inc. • US Green Building Council Redwood Empire Chapter • Watershed Protection • Wendell State Forest Alliance • Western Environmental Law Center • Wild Heritage • Wild Nature Institute • WildEarth Guardians • Wilderness Watch • WildWest Institute • Winter Wildlands Alliance • Yaak Valley Forest Council • Yellowstone to Uintas Connection


  1. Mark Krebs  

    It certainly looks like “opportunities for the timber industry.” However, this is “pork-lite” relative to mainstream carbon capture foisted by S. 2657: The American Energy Innovation Act (AEIA)


  2. Daniel Ulseth  

    This is the first time that I can recall the AGW alarmists actually admit to the differences in “energy density” of liquid hydrocarbon fuels as being superior to burning wood. Let’s take that a giant leap further, friends, and admit that atomic fission is a million times more dense than any other commercially available energy system. But that would scuttle the whole AGW narrative, so it must be ignored or denigrated.


  3. Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #402 -  

    […] Trillion Trees Act = Central Forestry Planning (ready for carbon, sustainability credits?) […]


  4. vortexfdc  

    Really interesting analysis to think about the action. Thanks for sharing!


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