Car­bon pro­grammes fail with­out cli­mate bill

The Pak Banker - - International3 -

BIS­MARCK: A na­tional pro­gram that paid farm­ers mil­lions of dol­lars for re­duc­ing green­house gasses has fiz­zled amid un­cer­tainty about U.S. cli­mate leg­is­la­tion, stopped pay­ing div­i­dends and will no longer taken en­roll­ment af­ter this year, the pres­i­dent of the group run­ning it said.

The North Dakota Farm­ers Union awarded farm­ers car­bon diox­ide cred­its for us­ing tech­niques that re­duced emis­sions of car­bon and other gasses tied to global warm­ing and dis­trib­uted the pro­ceeds when those cred­its were sold to busi­nesses, cities and oth­ers. About 3,900 farm­ers and ranch­ers from 40 states have earned about $7.4 mil­lion through the pro­gram since it started in 2006.

But car­bon cred­its that fetched up to $7 a met­ric ton a few years ago are now nearly worth­less, said Robert Carl­son, pres­i­dent of the North Dakota Farm­ers Union. The group has 6 mil­lion tons worth of cred­its that have gone un­sold, and while it will con­tinue to try to sell those, no new cred­its will be is­sued af­ter this year, Carl­son said. The pro­gram based in Jamestown is the largest of about a dozen sim­i­lar car­bon credit pro­grams na­tion­wide that cater solely to farm­ers and ranch­ers. Those other pro­grams are fac­ing the same dif­fi­cul­ties, said Roger John­son, pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Farm­ers Union in Washington and a for­mer North Dakota agri­cul­ture com­mis­sioner. The cred­its would have had value if Congress had passed so-called cap-and-trade cli­mate leg­is­la­tion. A bill that would have limited green­house gas emis­sions but let com­pa­nies and oth­ers off­set their pol­lu­tion by buy­ing car­bon cred­its passed the Demo­crat-con­trolled House last year but has lan­guished in the Se­nate. Repub­li­cans have de­rided the bill, which had strong sup­port from Demo­cratic Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, as "cap-and­tax" be­cause they said it would in­crease the cost of en­ergy.

"The high point of the prices co­in­cided at the time of the pres­i­den­tial pri­maries and the econ­omy was strong," John­son said. -Ap

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