Lykes Bros. unit to value CO2 on state lands
Remember Lykes Bros. Inc.? It's the private family umbrella business that once was a Tampa-based corporate empire that included First Florida Banks (now part of Bank of America), Peoples Gas (now part of TECO Energy) and Lykes Meats, among other holdings ranging from insurance to massive agriculture holdings. And it was owned by the Tampa's Lykes family, whose business history goes way back and includes selling beef to Cuba long ago.
Well, they're baaackand definitely 21st century. A Lykes Bros. subsidiary called EcoAsset Solutions, along with University of South Florida partners and a Tallahassee-based forestry consulting firm called Land and Timber Services Group were awarded a $93,425, first-of-its-kind state contract by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s division of state lands. The goal: to develop a "carbon inventory" of all lands acquired pursuant to Preservation 2000 and Florida Forever.
Why should we care about this sci-fi mumbo jumbo? Because carbon dioxide is quickly being transformed into a priced commodity. It will carry a genuine cost to produce it, and there will be value in things like forests that can "capture" CO2 and prevent it from being released into the atmosphere.
Some background: Senate Bill 542 was passed during the 2008 legislative session and requires the division of state lands to determine the value of "carbon sequestration" of state-owned conservation lands. And what is carbon sequestration?
It refers to projects that capture and store carbon in a manner that prevents CO2 from being released into the atmosphere. A carbon sink is a reservoir that can absorb or “sequester” carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. such as forests, soils and oceans.
The state contract for an inventory process will also consider potential carbon offset values of various land management practices and land use conversion.
According to John Wakefield, EcoAsset Solutions senior vice president, his company developed an analytical framework to estimate carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions for the state-owned lands that relies on the best scientific approaches available. EcoAsset Solutions chief environmental scientist Sandra Kling will lead the project to create baseline comparisons of the land use and management practices pursued on these lands and their respective carbon capture potential.
The resulting data will be developed into a statewide database. EcoAssets will provide its preliminary report to the state on June 9.
So what's the point of all this? Wakefield cites the growing momentum behind climate change policy at the state and federal levels. "Our analysis will allow the division of state lands to begin to identify the significance that state lands may play in the offsetting of greenhouse gas emissions.”
--Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist