“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 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.
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 are involved. A SUSTAINABLE BUILDING AND RESIDENCE CREDIT
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).’’
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).
“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.”
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