On March 25, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State signed HB 2528 into law. The bill, titled Forest Products Sector—Climate Response Contributions, is primarily an acknowledgement of the role the forest sector plays in carbon sequestration, but also allows future carbon market revenues to be invested in the forest sector through an amendment to RCW 70.235.005. While it may seem obvious that the forest sector and climate legislation would go hand-in-hand given the multitude of forest carbon projects on industrial ownerships, the political discussion has lately been dominated by reactionary rhetoric. Members of the forestry sector that recognize the compatibility of their operations with climate sequestration should speak up and publicly support climate action.
Washington State and the Pacific Northwest have enormous carbon sequestration potential. There are numerous examples of regional carbon offset projects that have been operating for years. For example, forest carbon is providing revenue to Green Diamond’s operations in the Klamath, grassland carbon projects are supporting ranchers in northeast Oregon, and carbon credit projects that capture methane from dairy operations abound from Tillamook to Bellingham to Twin Falls. Across the United States, industrial forestry owners like Sierra Pacific, Molpus Woodlands, New Forests and Lyme Timber operate carbon projects in tandem with sustainable timber harvesting on millions of acres.
The compatibility of forestry, agriculture, and carbon sequestration programs is clear, even if the particulars of future legislation is not. Forest industry members that understand this compatibility need to speak up – educating the public to view carbon credits as an important product of sustainable forestry is critical. Sustainable forestry is good for the land, the local economy, and the environment. The record should be set straight: carbon offset projects support sustainable forestry.