If the battle to halt global warming through climate change, starting with limiting CO2 emissions, is such a high priority, why is Maine’s hydropower generating capacity (the state hydropower plan) being ignored by the Mills administration’s new director of planning and innovation (Hannah Pingree)? Why import Canada’s clean, renewable energy when we can easily generate 250 megawatts of our own?

With Maine Arbor Day on the horizon for next month, why is the Mills administration ignoring the role our forests have in removing millions of tons of carbon and other toxins from the atmosphere? Have those newly appointed policy planners never read the imperative of both the Kyoto and Copenhagen climate summits that reforestation is the best answer to halting climate change based on CO2 buildup?

The science of measuring precisely the value of a forest canopy has improved to the point where these planners can use the i-Tree suite of programs to measure the CO2 sequestered and carbon stored.

The programs originated nearly two decades ago, using individual tree-by-tree analyses of species, size, etc., and have progressed to where high-resolution aerial canopy photos can be scanned and assessed at canopy.itreetools.org/.

I selected the Viles Arboretum in Augusta, ran a basic scan and found that the carbon dioxide sequestered annually in the arboretum’s trees was valued at $34,052 for 734.73 tons. The carbon stored in the trees was valued at $855,187 for an amount of 18,451 tons. Other benefits included particulate matter removed, sulfur dioxide removed, ozone removed, nitrogen dioxide removed and carbon monoxide removed. Not included were secondary benefits to watersheds, restoration of oxygen and water vapor to the atmosphere, etc.

Policy planners concerned with controlling carbon emissions and awarding carbon credits now have a tool to measure what is lost when forest is cut for a renewable-energy project.

Frank Heller

Katahdin Energy Works