Louisiana Ag head plugs carbon capture as climate change fix

BATON ROUGE, La. — Rising global temperatures could damage crop production, but farmers also need domestic oil and gas production to increase, Louisiana’s agriculture commissioner says.

“Climate change is real,” Commissioner Mike Strain told the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

Strain said the answer is carbon capture — taking carbon emissions out of the air and storing them underground, The Advocate reported.

Hundreds of environmental groups have called that a “false solution.” Carbon capture has to be part of the solution, but is not improving as fast as solar and wind energy and electricity storage, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported recently.

Over the past century, Strain said Monday, slight temperature increases have increased crop production. “But now we’re on the other side where the increases in temperature will decrease production in plants and in animals. So we must be cognizant of that,” he said.

Natural gas is a key feedstock for fertilizers, and Strain said prices need to stay low to keep food costs down. He said fertilizer costs could cut plantings of corn, the most widely used animal feed, down 14% in Louisiana, to 500,000 acres this year.

Oil prices, around $69 per barrel in December, hit $130 per barrel in March after economic sanctions were imposed on Russia after it invaded Ukraine. Brent crude for June delivery fell $4.33 to $102.32 a barrel on Monday.

Natural gas prices have also increased.

Strain, like industrial advocates in Louisiana, said carbon capture can deal with greenhouse gas emissions from increased production.

Agriculture is “the No. 1 natural way to suppress carbon,” Strain said. He said forests already suppress up to 20% of carbon produced and Louisiana can “suppress 200 to 400 times more than we produce.”

Agriculture and industry together can sequester more carbon than is being produced and “start turning the curve backwards,” Strain said.

“We cannot allow the climate to increase another two degrees in the next 100 years,” he said.

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