Increased Logging on Bureau of Land Management Lands in Western Oregon Would Rival Carbon Dioxide Pollution from Cars and Power Plants

For Immediate Release: September 10, 2014

Contacts: Dominick A. DellaSala, Ph.D., 541-482-4459 x302; 541-621-7223 (cell); Olga Krankina, Ph.D., 541-737-1780

Ashland, Oregon – A new analysis from Dr. Olga Krankina, a member of the Nobel-prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), demonstrates how increases in logging levels on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in western Oregon proposed by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (S. 2734) would lead to greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to expanding the Boardman coal-fired power plant in Oregon by 50%, or adding another half million cars to Oregon’s roads, or burning over 6.3 million barrels of oil annually.

Senator Wyden’s legislation covers over 2 million acres of western Oregon’s federal forestlands (often called the “O&C” lands) administered by BLM. If S.2734 is enacted into law, logging would increase by 75-140% above current levels. The O&C lands are currently managed under the region’s Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP), which was adopted in 1994. An indirect effect of the NWFP’s logging reductions has been a gradual accumulation of atmospheric carbon by the region’s forests. At present, two-thirds of BLM forestland in the Pacific Northwest are protected, older “high-biomass forests,” a term used by scientists to describe forests that sequester (absorb) and store massive amounts of atmospheric carbon.

According to Krankina, a former member of the IPCC in 1998-2007 and Courtesy Faculty at Oregon State University, “In the foreseeable future CO2 emissions from proposed logging on BLM lands will not be made up for by planting young trees or storing carbon in wood products. Because proposed logging targets some of the most carbon-dense forests in the nation, the resulting greenhouse gas emissions may be even higher than estimated in this analysis.”

Krankina used a forest sector carbon accounting model known as LANDCARB, developed by Dr. Mark Harmon at Oregon State University, to estimate CO2 emissions for different forest management scenarios. Her analysis compared projected CO2 emissions under Wyden’s proposed legislation vs. those currently occurring under the more protective Northwest Forest Plan. If Senator Wyden’s legislation is enacted, an estimated 2.69 million tonnes of CO2 will be emitted to the atmosphere each year from increased logging on BLM O&C lands. The estimate includes all types of timber harvest and covers ~1.2 million acres of forestland where logging would occur.

Dr. Dominick DellaSala, Chief Scientist of Geos Institute and Courtesy Faculty at Oregon State University, also participated in the analysis, and stated, “Senator Wyden’s logging levels would put BLM O&C lands on par with the state’s biggest global warming polluter at a time when states like Oregon are looking for ways to cut back on global warming pollution.”

DellaSala added, “To make matters worse, increased logging emissions would cut into proactive efforts aimed at reducing global warming pollution via increasing auto fuel efficiency standards and transitioning energy use from coal to clean renewables like wind and solar.”

Wyden’s proposed logging-related emissions work against President Barack Obama’s recently released Climate Action Plan and efforts globally to cut back on emissions from burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. Globally, up to 17% of the world’s greenhouse gas pollution comes from deforestation and forest degradation, which is greater than the world’s entire transportation network, according to the IPCC.

Krankina concluded “Forest management decisions being made today will determine if forests will play a role in stabilizing the climate in the foreseeable future.”

Click here to read Dr. Krankina’s full analysis.

Click here for Dominick DellaSala’s Nov. 2014 “Conservation Gains and Losses of Senator Ron Wyden’s Proposed Oregon and California Land Grant Act Compared to the Northwest Forest Plan.”

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