California cap and trade's dirty secret


It is too bad that this otherwise insightful article overlooked a key flaw and dirty secret embodied in the California Air Resources Board's cap-and-trade law ("A better cap-and-trade?" HCN, 4/15/13). As part of the carbon-trading scheme the ARB launched, the board adopted forest carbon protocols that allow timber companies in California and elsewhere to market carbon offsets by replanting trees in destructively clear-cut forests. This was done to pander to corporate timber giants like Sierra Pacific Industries, the largest private landowner in California. The current chair of the ARB and Gov. Jerry Brown's administration have repeatedly thwarted efforts by groups like Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club to remove this provision or limit its application. It's particularly outrageous since ARB's cap-and-trade program heavily relies on the forest sector to provide carbon credits to industries that are the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, such as powerplants and refineries. Instead of being proud of California's cap-and-trade program, the ARB and Gov. Brown should be embarrassed and ashamed. Global efforts to ameliorate climate change already recognize the importance of preserving and avoiding the liquidation of native forests. ARB is missing the opportunity to lead by example in California.

Jeff Shellito
Sacramento, California