Somewhere in a land far, far away a tree without a voice is breathing a sigh of relief.
If a tree falls in Brazil, it will, in fact, be heard in the U.S. – at least if a little-noticed provision in the pending climate-change bill in Congress becomes law.
As part of the far-reaching climate bill, the House is set to vote Friday on a plan to pay companies billions of dollars not to chop down trees around the world, as a way to reduce global warming.
The provision, called “offsets,” has been attacked by both environmentalists and business groups as ineffective and poorly designed. Critics contend it would send scarce federal dollars overseas to plant trees when subsidies are needed at home, while the purported ecological benefits would be difficult to quantify.
The offsets “would be a transfer of wealth overseas,” said William Kovacs, vice president for environmental affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.