Climate change gets attention in Washington

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The USDA’s Climate Change Program Office (CCPO) has, in keeping with its requirements under the 2008 Farm Bill, prepared a report containing methods for quantifying entity-scale greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removals from the agriculture and forestry sectors. A notice in this week’s Federal Register seeks public comment on the report, which was prepared by 38 technical experts and reviewed by 29 scientific reviewers.

USDA anticipates that the methods will be used by landowners and the agency itself to improve management practices and identify actions to reduce GHG emissions and increase carbon sequestration. The guidelines and methods could also be used by farmers, ranchers, and forest owners to facilitate their participation in voluntary state and regional GHG registries and programs.

According to the notice, comments received will be used to further refine the methods report in preparation for publication as a USDA Technical Bulletin. Comments submitted will help USDA to gauge the appropriateness and completeness of the proposed methods as well as methodological or data concerns that should be considered.

The Climate Change Program Office (CCPO) operates within the Office of the Chief Economist at USDA and functions as the Department-wide focal point on agriculture, rural, and forestry-related climate change activities. The full draft report can be viewed at by clicking here, and the Federal Register notice can be viewed here.

Meanwhile, a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee has scheduled a hearing for September 18 to examine climate change-related programs and activities being conducted by various federal agencies, including USDA. Many Democrats on the committee have been seeking a hearing on the underlying science behind climate change as well as the impacts it is having, however, the September 18 hearing will focus on what the administration is doing to address the issue.

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