The North Coast Journal

By Heidi Walters

October 7, 2010

One argument against Prop. 23 — for AB32’s continuance — doesn’t so much deny that some sectors will lose business and jobs, but suggests instead that many more jobs will be gained in the clean energy sector. And that, in turn, will spin us faster toward the higher goal: curbing global warming as well as cleaning the air.

“This is a job creator, not a job destroyer,” Peter Lehman, director of the Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University, said about AB32. The Schatz Center is currently developing a broad plan to make Humboldt County ultra-green and energy self-sufficient. “Suspending it would have international implications. I mean, the United States has been a laggard when it comes to addressing climate change. China is going to become a world leader in renewable energy technology; they’re going to make a lot of money. And we’re dropping the ball.”

He said California has been the one shining light in the nation in terms of combating global warming. Prop. 23 would send the message that we just don’t give a damn anymore, he said. And ultimately, that could impact groups such as his that depend on grants funded by companies with an incentive — voluntary or regulation-driven — to invest in green energy.

Humboldt Redwood Company, part of Mendocino Redwood Company, also is against Prop. 23.

“We do feel the issue of greenhouse gas emission needs to be addressed,” said HRC’s chief forester, Mike Jani. “And, from a forestry perspective, the science shows that well-managed forests in California are the only net carbon sequesterer in the state.”

Under the new but still evolving California Climate Action Registry, landowners can register their lands as official carbon sequestration forests in which, following state-approved protocols, they grow more, and bigger, trees than they harvest. Polluters can buy carbon offset credits from such forests. We already have one here in Humboldt, the Van Eck Forest by McKinleyville. Gov. Schwarzenegger famously bought offsets from it.

So far, buying carbon offsets is voluntary. Someday, under cap-and-trade, it could be a way for polluters to achieve a mandatory emissions reduction.

The MRC has already enrolled its entire 229,000 acres of forest holdings in Mendocino and Sonoma in the registry. It plans to enroll HRC’s 208,000 acres someday, too.

© 2010 The North Coast Journal