Loan guarantees proposed to help foresters into carbon markets

A new Senate bill would offer up to $150 million in loan guarantees to companies and nonprofit groups that help small and family-size foresters adopt climate-smart practices and sell carbon credits. Small and family foresters own 36% of U.S. forests but face high up-front costs if they want to be paid for carbon sequestration, said supporters on Wednesday.

“For too long, there have been barriers that prevent family foresters from being able to take advantage of the economic benefits of the carbon-reduction efforts they’ve been doing,” said Senate Agriculture chair Debbie Stabenow, a lead sponsor.

The Rural Forest Markets Act would make the $150 million in loan guarantees available to initiatives that help small and family foresters create and sell credits for locking carbon in the soil or providing other environmental benefits, according to a summary of the bill. “By establishing a federal loan guarantee to back these private investments, new capital and jobs will flow to rural communities and landowners, all while improving the environment and storing more carbon in our forests,” the bill’s sponsors said in a statement.

Also sponsoring the bill were Sens. Mike Braun of Indiana, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Angus King of Maine. Stabenow is a Democrat, Braun and Capito are Republicans, and King is an independent who caucuses with the Democrats.

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