The California government is preparing to enter into the "forest bank" business in a bid to save woodlands and battle carbon pollution and climate change, reports the Los Angeles Times. The state is expected to roll out a California "cabon market" that may be expanded elsewhere in the West if it works. The program will allow forest owners to sell "carbon credits" saved when they don't log their land. The credits will help offset carbon pollution in upcoming development.
Carbon-absorbing forests "can be managed like a long-term carbon bank," said a spokeswoman for a nonprofit that arranges a similar program. Selling offsets is like "writing checks on the account," she said. Critics warn, however, that the system could hand a blank check to rich corporations to pollute certain regions, while other Americans reap the benefits of forests and clean air. "You leave the system open to gaming," warned an environmentalist.