ALCS Statement on "Climate Change" and Carbon Sequestration Markets
December 14, 2016
Since our small company's inception in late 2003, creating, exploring, and participating in new natural resource markets was our raison d'etre, our cause, our dream. This is because market forces are legitimate and are far more powerful than government regulations, which in the past several decades have become symbolic of government overreach.
ALCS's purpose is to achieve public conservation benefits from private exchanges in capitalist markets.
This means trying out new and emerging markets, such as carbon sequestration, as well as more traditional land conveyances to public land management agencies. In 2005, it was impossible to foresee that carbon sequestration would become synonymous with alleged human-caused "climate change," and therefore become a political minefield, or that American public lands could or would be re-purposed for aggressive political goals.
There is no question that the "climate change" data, its analysis, associated academic and foundation roles, and associated regulatory politics have become a politicized morass. It too has become a symbol of government overreach, and as it has become a political weapon it has lost credibility.
In 2005, who could know that the emerging carbon sequestration markets were associated with just a few individual people, and apparently designed to make a profit from foundation largesse and not just capitalistic exchanges among private parties. The Chicago Carbon Exchange was where ALCS began exploring carbon sequestration options, and its eventual demise triggered our own withdrawal from that potential market.
Who could know in 2005 that in 2015 our national parks and western lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management could later be directly turned against the American citizenry. To those of us pursuing land conservation, these subsequent decisions from Washington, DC, were unthinkable, unconscionable, totally contrary to the interests and rights of the citizenry. This government behavior was the opposite of why ALCS tries so hard to augment public parks and forests, and public hunting areas.
ALCS remains committed to the idea of free will in capitalistic markets, free from political interests on the Left or the Right. For example, if a buyer somewhere is willing to pay us for used, old smelly shoes that are worthless in our local markets, then you can bet that ALCS will gather up as many used, old smelly shoes as we can find and sell them at the highest profit we can attain. We do not judge whether old, smelly shoes are a worthy investment, or not. That is for the buyer to determine.
The same principle holds for carbon sequestration, which should be decoupled from government regulation. If an investor wants to pay a private landowner to store carbon dioxide on that private land, then that is a matter between the two private entities, irrespective of whether or not someone believes this is a politically acceptable or financially wise investment.
It is important to remind critics of private carbon sequestration that it is directly tied to timber markets, which here in Pennsylvania and adjoining states are a critical source of rural income and jobs. Numerous decreasing bird species' welfare is directly tied to changes in forest cover. Aggressive forestry practices create the kind of habitat and life cycle opportunities these decreasing species require. Aggressive timber management is an important wildlife conservation tool. The alternative tool is wildfire, which in the heavily forested northeast is risky.
ALCS has never advocated for government regulation. ALCS was founded as an alternative. It was our founder's direct, personal experience with federal regulation while working at the US Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC, that led him to leave that agency and explore other ways to achieve environmental protection that do not crush citizens' rights or waste hard-earned taxpayer dollars.
ALCS remains committed to exploring and creating the dynamic and exciting private market forces that have always been a hallmark of American entrepreneurship. Intervening political forces from any direction interfering in these private exchanges are unwelcome, because free capitalistic markets are the greatest expression of individual freedom and free choice.
ALCS wishes all American citizens a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!