Federal forests could fight climate change

Dec. 5, 2009 at 4:42 PM

PORTLAND, Ore., Dec. 5 (UPI) -- America's public forests could be enlisted in the battle against global warming and climate change to the benefit of taxpayers, experts say.

A study by Oregon State University says the state's national forests absorb almost half the carbon emissions of Oregon's cars and power plants, The (Portland) Oregonian reported Friday.

Now some want find a way for the government to make money from the role forests play in removing greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the newspaper said.

One method would be through cap and trade programs. A facility like a power plant would be limited to how much carbon dioxide it emits. If it exceeds that limit, it could offset that by purchasing a credit from somewhere that captures carbon -- such as a federal forest.

The question, experts argue, is how putting forests to work in this way would change current uses of logging, wildlife habitat and recreation.

Conservationists say a complete stop to logging would result in carbon savings equal to the removal of every automobile from Oregon's roads.

But logging advocates urge the opposite; to cut more often and use the wood, which stores carbon, while planting fast-growing young forests for more carbon absorption.

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