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New report highlights ways Lower Great Lakes could help US reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions

The Roads To Removal Report was released Monday and looks at more than 3,000 counties across the country.
Screenshot from Lawrence Livermore Laboratory report
The Roads To Removal Report was released Monday and looks at more than 3,000 counties across the country. 

Indiana and the rest of the Lower Great Lakes Region’s agricultural landscape could be an important factor in helping the US reach its goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

A nationwide analysis from the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory looked at more than 3,000 counties to find localized strategies. It found storing organic carbon in cropland soil through low-till land management and cover crops was one of the most feasible options for carbon removal in the Midwest. But it is a more temporary solution, according to IU O'Neill School of Public and Environment Affairs associate professor Jerome Dumortier.

That’s because once soil is tilled, the carbon is released again into the atmosphere.

Read more: Midwest farmers tripled use of cover crops, but it's still just a small fraction of acres

Still, Dumortier said the strategy is important short-term, as people feel immediate effects of climate change.

"The problem is when you have homeowners in Florida, who cannot find home insurance anymore, because insurance companies are pulling out," he said. Insurance companies are aware that hurricanes are becoming stronger, they're aware that houses in Florida are becoming more expensive.”

The analyses found another option where the Lower Great Lakes hold potential is Biomass Carbon Removal and Storage. This strategy removes carbon from the atmosphere to store underground or in long-lived products. The carbon can also be converted into chemicals or energy.

The report, released Monday, isn’t meant to be prescriptive. Dumortier said it is meant to inform people of options in their area.

The analyses said to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, direct air capture technology will be necessary. This method is expensive and holds the best potential in the Upper and Lower rocky Mountains regions, because of their proximity to geological formations, where the captured CO2 would be stored.