As concerns over global climate change increase, there is growing interest in the potential for agricultural lands to provide ecosystem services related to carbon sequestration. Many geologic sequestration techniques remain unproven and cost prohibitive. research suggests, however, that terrestrial sequestration is currently economically and environmentally viable. Rangelands are a major land cover in the United States, and particularly the West, accounting for nearly half of the 800 million acres of grazing lnds in the US. While the per acre carbon capture potential of rangelands may be less than either crop or forest lands, existing research indicates that even modest changes in carbon storage on rangelands can potentially alter the global carbon cycle. the Chicago Climate Exchange has recently initiated a Rangeland Soil Offset program to allow carbon credit trading for carbon sequestered in certain geographic areas defined by USDA Land Resource Regions. Sequestration rates for rangelands in non-degraded states range from 0.12-0.27 metric tons per acre per year. yet little research exists regarding the economic viability of enrollment in this program. Moreover, in April 0f 2009, th US Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) ruled carbon Dioxide to be a pollutant, and that it must be regulated per the Clean Air Act. This has fueled a widespread debate, with congress now considering a cap and trade bill aimed at controlling the amount of carbon emissions in the USA. Research regarding the potential benefits of enrollment in the program under proposed Cap and Trade legislation will be useful for producers considering program enrollment and for analysts interested in research regarding carbon sequestration on rangelands.
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