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 user 2005-03-25 at 10:06:00 am Views: 58
  • #11063
    U.S. to Start Tracking ‘Greenhouse’ Gases
    WASHINGTON(March 05) -The government will start keeping track of all the “greenhouse” gases that
    farmers and foresters voluntarily reduce to help combat global warming.

    Officials in the Energy and Agriculture departments issued
    guidelines Wednesday for counting those efforts. They said the action indicates
    how seriously the Bush administration views the problem of gases that trap heat
    in the atmosphere like a greenhouse.

    Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said farm and forest
    landowners now have “a unique opportunity to be part of the solution to
    greenhouse gas emissions” such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides,
    refrigerants and other compounds.

    For example, they can report using no-till agriculture,
    installing a waste digester, improving nutrient management or managing forest
    land in ways that cut those gases.

    The Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation
    Service also have prepared an online method for farmers and ranchers to estimate
    soil carbon sequestration – the natural process by which carbon dioxide in the
    air is turned into carbon stored in soil and plants.

    Since 1992, the United States has kept a registry of
    voluntary efforts by businesses, groups and individuals to reduce greenhouse
    gases. Doing so helps build a public record for policymaking and negotiations
    with other countries.

    David Hawkins, director of Natural Resources Defense
    Council’s climate center, called the reporting registry a “charade that is
    intended to allow the government and the participants to portray that they are
    doing something about global warming, when they are not.”

    For example, companies running nuclear reactors can claim
    greenhouse gas reductions by saying they would have otherwise operated
    coal-fired power plants, Hawkins said.

    In another case, Hawkins said, one coal-fired power plant
    in Maryland claims reductions for selling some of its carbon dioxide to the food
    and beverage industry, even though the carbon dioxide is eventually released
    anyway once a drink is opened and consumed.

    “To call it a reduction is absurd, but the Department of
    Energy allows them to file it as a report and call it a reduction,” Hawkins

    In 2003, the Agriculture Department said it would start
    rewarding farmers and ranchers whose tilling and planting practices help reduce
    greenhouse gases by increasing carbon sequestration. It was not clear whether
    those rewards are linked in any way to the voluntary reporting.

    Carbon sequestration is regarded as a way of slowing the
    growth in greenhouse gases but not by itself a solution to global warming.