Forest ‘carbon capture’ program
In the last regular session of the Legislature, there were several serious misguided attempts to insert the State of West Virginia into the middle of private, voluntary forest carbon capture agreements. This ill-advised effort is a classic case of a solution in search of a problem.
Any attempt by the Legislature to control, regulate, or interfere with these private contracts is a fool’s errand, as the price of lumber or any other commodity is dominated by the law of supply and demand. The history of the government’s worldwide intrusion to control prices or force an increase or decrease in demand is one of monumental failure.
Here are the basic facts:
- The “carbon capture” program is a private, non-governmental contract between the forest landowners (the sellers) and those who want to offset emissions (the buyers).
- The forest land seller is still permitted to harvest a portion of his or her timber that is covered by the carbon capture agreement and the idea of no-cut forest carbon contracts do not exist.
- Forest carbon capture agreements cover only a small fraction of West Virginia’s forests.
- The argument that forest carbon capture will cause market shortages in lumber is false, since the price of almost all species of hardwoods has dropped substantially in recent years because of a growing surplus, and the demand for hardwoods is down close to 50% from the 1990s because of global competition and the wood substitute markets.
As Greenbrier County landowners and past West Virginia Tree Farmers of The Year, Can we encourage the West Virginia Legislature to let the “free market” work and not try to tamper with the natural forces of supply and demand and not to infringe on the rights of private landowners.
William “Skip” and Judy Deegans