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US Senator Enrolls Farm in Chicago Climate Mart

Date: 19-May-06
Country: US
Author: Timothy Gardner

Senator Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican, enlisted his 600-acre corn and soybean farm in the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX).

"I want to encourage farmers to explore this new opportunity to increase their farm income by using carbon-absorbing environmental practices," Lugar said in a statement.

The CCX emerged when early in his first term President Bush withdrew Washington from the Kyoto Protocol, an international pact to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, saying it would hurt the economy. In its first round, the pact put 40 industrialized countries under mandatory emissions limits.

The European Union created a mandatory market in 2005 to trade emissions of greenhouse gases by handing down limits on industrial plants. Under the scheme, plants that exceed emissions limits can buy credits to pollute from those that cut their production of the gases.

Under the CCX, Lugar's farm in Marion County, Indiana, will earn credits for growing trees which capture carbon dioxide, the main gas scientists blame for global warming. The farm is devoting about a third of its acreage to hardwood trees.

It can sell those credits, worth about US$3.50 per tonne on Thursday, to CCX members that have signed legal contracts with the exchange to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases.

The CCX estimates Lugar's trees will capture about 3,400 tonnes of CO2.

Other farms in the US Midwest have recently joined the CCX. Dairy farmer Dennis Haubenschild, of Minnesota, received a nearly US$10,000 check from the CCX last year for burning methane, a potent greenhouse gas, released from decaying cow manure.

Lugar, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, supports mandatory cap and trade programs on greenhouse gas emissions in general, a spokesman said.

Specifically, he supports legislation to create such a market by Sens. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, and Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat.

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