House approves bill to study carbon sequestration

Posted: Sunday, May 18, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) The state would study whether it can make money by absorbing greenhouse gases under a bill that passed the House on Saturday.

The bill by Rep. Ethan Berkowitz, D-Anchorage, calls for an advisory committee working with the Department of Natural Resources to study the idea of carbon sequestration. That refers to measures taken to capture and store carbon in forests, soils or the ocean.

Berkowitz said a worldwide market is developing for trading in ''carbon credits.'' That's because a number of countries and companies anticipate facing limits in the amount of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases they can put into the environment. Such emissions have been blamed for global warming.

Alaska should investigate whether it can make money from that market, Berkowitz said. With Alaska's large land base and forested areas, he estimates there's a potential to make up to $450 million. He pointed to reforestation after harvest of timber killed by bark beetles as a possible way to generate carbon credits.

Making money from carbon sequestration would not require signing off on the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement on reduction of greenhouse gases that the United States has not agreed to, Berkowitz said.

House Bill 196 passed the House 35-1, with Rep. Kelly Wolf, R-Kenai, voting no.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

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