Jan 152015
 

Carbon dioxide gas, released into the air by the burning of fossil fuels, is largely responsible for the greenhouse effect and resulting climate change. Carbon Sinks are areas that sequester, or absorb and store carbon dioxide, removing it from the air. Oceans, soils and vegetation are mediums for such storage. Forests are thought to be the most efficient and beneficial carbon sinks since they replace carbon dioxide with oxygen. Some believe carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, or geosequestration, is a man-made version of nature’s carbon sinks. This theoretical process employs modern technology to capture carbon dioxide gas from large polluters such as factories and power plants. It then envisions transporting this gas by pipeline or ship to depleted oil and gas wells or underground saline formations where it is compressed it into a liquid and injected deep underground. It is necessary to transport CO2 gas to distant locations is because power plants are often located near coal deposits which are unsuitable for carbon storage. Some say CCS technology could be an important tool for reducing greenhouse gas and the need to curb our use of fossil fuels. Opponents say CCS technology is expensive, risky, untested and unlikely to work well. They claim a new generation of modern coal gasified power plants, needed for the CCS process, will require 25% of the plant’s total power output just to keep operating. Once the CO2 arrives at its destination, it must be compressed before being injected into the ground. Including transport, this step consumes an additional 20% of the energy yielded by burning coal in the first place. Not included in these expenses are the costs of equipment, infrastructure and drilling new injection wells should we run out of old oil wells. Also, after being filled and capped, many of these wells will then need to be indefinitely monitored to detect dangerous CO2 leaks that could, under certain conditions, be lethal to humans and animals living nearby. Since 2010, Mississippi has been building the $5.6 billion Kemper County facility which is trying to deploy CCS technology. This facility, initially estimated to cost $2.4 billion, is designed to capture 65% of its CO2 emissions but has been beset with long delays and cost-increases. Critics say CCS technology has not been proven on an industrial scale and that many in industry and government don’t think it will work. They claim carbon capture and storage is being used to divert focus and funding away from the development of cleaner burning fuels, where these funds would be better spent. Kemper County has received at least $500 million in federal aid.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current carbon capture and storage policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to establish an industry-government pilot project to assess the feasibility of carbon capture and storage technology

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

America’s 155 National Forests are managed by our Forest Service. These forests contain about 190 million acres, or about 9% of our total land area. Nearly 90% of these forests are located west of the Mississippi River, with 12% situated in Alaska alone. The U.S. Forest Service manages timber harvesting, livestock grazing, water, wildlife and recreation on these lands. However, unlike our national parks which protect resources, national forests were created to balance resource protection with resource use. This conflicting mission has been the source of endless disputes between parties competing for opposite goals. Environmentalists and naturalists consider logging, grazing and off-road vehicle use as threats to forest ecosystems. However, scientists are now saying climate change is the biggest threat to our national forests. Recent studies have found that longer droughts and higher temperatures are affecting a large majority of tree species worldwide. It suggests that many of these species will perish if the pace of climate change continues. Experts say that many trees in our forests are now suffering from drought, disease and pests. Our forests are also overcrowded with dead or dying trees and thick underbrush which in some cases is 20 times more dense than normal. Advocates say less density and competition between plants enable trees to better tolerate stress from drought. As an added benefit, such “forest cleaning” will also reduce the chance of huge wildfires that our West has come to know and fear so well.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.1895 – National Forest Emergency Response Act

I oppose reforming current forest fire policy and wish to defeat H.R.1895

I support responding to extreme fire hazard and unsafe conditions resulting from pine beetle infestation, drought, disease or storm damage by declaring a state of emergency and immediately implementing hazardous fuels reduction projects, and wish to pass H.R.1895

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

For the past 10 years, our great western Conifer forests have been under siege by the mountain pine bark beetle. This insect is responsible for killing nearly 42 million acres, or 70,000 square miles, of our forest pine trees. In the East, the emerald ash borer and the gypsy moth are also causing much forest damage. Scientists claim climate change is much to blame for our beetle problem. They say severe drought has caused bark beetle populations to explode while enabling them to move to higher altitudes where they encounter trees that have not developed defenses against them. Bark beetles normally attack weakened trees. However, with record-breaking beetle populations and more drought-stressed trees, even relatively healthy trees are being infected. Longer summers and warmer winters also assist beetle populations by enabling more beetle larva to survive the moderate cold season, and allowing these voracious pests to spread farther than they once could. With scientists predicting future droughts to be more intense, occur more often and last longer, the fate of our forests is not promising. In an attempt to discover its weakness and stem its devastation, scientists have recently sequenced the genome of the mountain pine bark beetle.

Pending Legislation:

S.327 & H.R.2401 – Good Neighbor Forestry Act

I oppose reforming current forest infestation policy and wish to defeat S.327 & H.R.2401

I support cooperative agreements and contracts with state foresters to provide forest, rangeland and watershed restoration and protection services that include activities to treat insect infected trees; activities to reduce hazardous fuels; and any other activities to restore or improve forest, rangeland and watershed health including fish and wildlife habitat; permits state foresters to enter into subcontracts to provide such restoration and protection services, and wish to pass S.327 & H.R.2401

 Posted by at 12:00 am