By Shannon Wilson
For The Register-Guard
Feb. 25, 2018
Although the Clean Energy Jobs bill’s alleged aim is the reduction of Oregon’s carbon emissions, it amazingly ignores the state’s largest emitter: industrial clear-cut logging on millions of acres of our forest lands.
The Center for Sustainable Economy declared in its 2017 “Oregon Forest Carbon” report (bit.ly/2ojcchD) that “emissions of carbon from even-aged management, also referred to as clear-cut logging, is topping out at an average of 33 million metric tons of greenhouse gases each year (in Oregon). By comparison, the previous No. 1 — transportation — emits between 20 million and 24 million metric tons each year.”
The CSE also stated that “addressing clear-cut logging is the one thing Gov. (Kate) Brown and the legislators can do that can have global significance because of the inherent advantage that Pacific Northwest forests have in storing more carbon than any other place on Earth.”
Forest carbon density in Oregon’s old growth forest has been found to top 1,000 tons of carbon per hectare. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states, “Pacific Northwest forests are part of the cool temperate moist biome, which is the most carbon-rich biome on Earth with mean storage of 233 tons of carbon per hectare.” This IPCC number includes plantations as well as old-growth forest.
Before white settlement, it’s estimated by federal agency scientists that approximately 50 million acres of the Pacific Northwest, predominantly east of the Cascade crest, was covered with natural forest ecosystems.
An extensive report, “The Great American Stand: U.S. Forests and the Climate Emergency” (bit.ly/2ocNMsK), released by the Dogwood Alliance in March 2017, states that the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that “carbon emissions from logging of 2006 to 2010 were equal to 584 million metric tons of CO2, an amount greater than fossil fuel emissions from residential and commercial building energy uses combined over that same period.”
The Federal Forest Carbon Coalition report, “Modernizing Federal Forest Management to Prepare for Climate Disruption,” presented to the Obama administration in 2014, states that “the midlevel estimate of the monetizable damage from the emission of carbon dioxide is about $50 per metric ton … .”
Based on that analysis, the current carbon emissions of more than 30 million tons per year from clear-cut logging in Oregon costs the nation more than $1.5 billion in damage as a result of extreme climate events. This does not even take into account logging damage done to Oregon’s water quality, infrastructure, fish, and wildlife (bit.ly/2EGAP2T).
In the winter of 2008, Eco Advocates NW held the first (and only) Clearcutting the Climate Conference to spotlight the carbon emissions and ecosystem impacts of clear-cut logging and forest biomass energy in Oregon. This conference was a response to claims by then-Gov. Ted Kulongoski and the Oregon Board of Forestry that Oregon was the Saudi Arabia of forest biomass energy, and that Oregon’s forests should be clear-cut for electricity and liquid biofuels production.
We commemorate the 10-year anniversary of that conference by calling attention to the continued negligence and deception of the public by Gov. Brown’s office, the Democrat-controlled Legislature, and many Oregon environmental groups in their failure to address the damage to the climate caused by clear-cut logging. Also we seek to expose a form of environmental nonprofit malpractice perpetrated by some of Oregon’s larger environmental organizations such as the Nature Conservancy and others that continue to ignore the impacts of clear-cut logging as well as promote logging on millions of acres of federal public lands in the name of forest health.
At best, the Clean Energy Jobs bill is merely window-dressing that only seeks to increase revenues in the state’s coffers. The Democrats running the “greenwashing” charade will decide how much tax revenues go to logging in the name of “forest health” or “fire fuels reduction,” highway expansion in the name of “efficiency” to accommodate urban sprawl, incentives to electric car manufacturers, and bureaucrats’ pension benefits.
Many large environmental groups, by claiming a victory for counterproductive climate legislation, will benefit by maintaining access to Democratic politicians and obtaining increased foundation funding.
The current bill’s passage would be a win-win for everybody in the form of monetary reward without benefit to the climate, Oregon’s forest ecosystems, salmon, wildlife and future generations.
Shannon Wilson of Eugene, a forester, energy conservation technician and wildlife technician, is director of Eco Advocates NW.