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Ohio Landowners Await Action On Carbon Credits.

While proposed health care change takes the lion's share of congressional attention this week, some Ohio land-owners and conservationists are more focused on climate change. A house-passed bill would use financial incentives to gain steep reductions in carbon emissions during the next decades.

To cut carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, one study suggests reforestation of parts of Ohio and other Great Lakes states. Forests capture carbon dioxide. The so-called cap and trade legislation would require polluters to reduce carbon emissions or purchase credits for instance, from land-owners who grow new forests. Bill Stanley, a researcher with the Nature Conservancy, says his organization has already started a so-called carbon sink project in Adams County near the Ohio River.

"We've planted about 500 acres down there and are expecting it to pull out around 75-thousand tons of carbon dioxide as those trees grow." Says Stanley.

But, the Adams County project represents just a small part of a reforestation plan for Ohio and other Great Lakes states. A federal plan calls for a new forest about the size of West Virginia. Land-owners who grow trees would qualify for so-called carbon credits on the Chicago climate exchange. They could then sell those credits to utilities, factory owners or individuals to make money for growing trees. Right now, its often more profitable for Ohio farmers to grow corn, soybeans or Christmas trees which are harvested each year than it is to grow hardwood trees which take decades to mature. But, Stanley cites a new federal study which tries to answer the economic equation for land-owners.

"Is carbon going to provide that financial incentive that's going to overcome all these other possibilities that farmers have and make it economically worthwhile for them to do so. And according to that study the prices will be high enough for that carbon to shift the balance." Stanley says.

A gravel road leads to the entrance of the Harmony tree farm on U-S Route 40 near the Madison County-Clark county line. Owner Carl Young has retired from his dairy operation he now leaves that to his offspring ..But, at age 80, he's following the climate change legislation in congress. So far, he's doubtful about proposals to boost the amount of forest in Ohio and other leading farm states.

"There isn't any way they're going to get people to replace corn and soybeans with any kind of a carbon capturing thing."

Young says trees are a long term project, not a monthly or even a yearly income. He says his small, 80 acre operation, would not qualify for carbon credits under the proposed federal legislation.

"We're anxious to see the details of that and our tree farmer association is following it closely. The initial efforts as we understand it is that they're only going to pay people to plant trees where there are no trees at all. No credit for people who already have trees even though these trees are growing and capturing carbon as they go." Says Young.

Young adds his tree farms would likely not be big enough to qualify for carbon credits. But, he could join with other landowners until they acquired enough forest to sell credits on the climate exchange. The senate is expected to take up climate change legislation this fall.. In December, an international climate change treaty will considered at a meeting in Denmark.