Release No. 0482.02
DEPUTY SECRETARY JIM MOSELEY
CLIMATE CHANGE WORKSHOP
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
WASHINGTON, D.C. - NOVEMBER 18, 2002
"Thanks very much, Bob.
"My thanks to Bob Card and the Department of Energy for hosting this session
and taking the lead in an open process that will strengthen the Voluntary
Reporting of Greenhouse Gases.
"We're very pleased to work with all of you. Our experts will attend each
of the four meetings, ready to listen and answer questions, as we develop
guidelines that do the job for forestry and agriculture.
"My appreciation to everyone here today. This is a strong collaboration,
among federal agencies and with stakeholders.
"Your thoughts are what this is about. We welcome your comments and
participation. It's important to us to know what you have to say.
"On the face of it, this issue is administrative -- about accounting,
reporting, rules and guidelines.
"USDA is as committed as every other agency represented at this table to
getting the technicalities right.
"But we're committed because this registry is so important to getting some
bigger things right, too ... like moving forward on many fronts to do
America's part to address climate change ... to protect the environment for
future generations ... and to do all that in the framework of innovative,
"The concept of crediting greenhouse gas offsets fits right in with USDA's
portfolio approach to conservation, and parallels our voluntary,
"Last February, when President Bush announced the Global Climate Change
Initiative, he said "we will look for ways to increase the amount of carbon
stored by America's farms and forests through a strong conservation title in
the farm bill."
"Last May, we got that strong conservation title.
"In fact, the 2002 Farm Bill is the largest commitment of resources to
conservation on private lands in the nation's history and strengthens
programs that will have greenhouse gas benefits.
"And there's a clear role here for the private sector as well, opportunities
for industry to partner with farmers to address greenhouse gas emissions. As
an Indiana hog producer, I want to caution that we'll need to manage
expectations in the farm community. It's important to be realistic about
offsets. The demand for greenhouse gas offsets, especially early on, is
likely to be modest.
"Prices paid for reduction credits may be low. On their own, the demand for
these offsets won't have a dramatic effect on the landscape.
"Only in a few cases, such as converting bottom lands in the Mississippi
Delta to hardwoods, are companies stepping in with financing solely for the
greenhouse gas offsets.
"Realistically, agriculture and forestry offset projects will work best as
part of a portfolio with multiple benefits to the environment.
"Look at the anaerobic digester as an example. Credits from methane
reduction benefits, on their own, may not support an investment in this
technology. But combine those credits with other benefits - like public
goals for water quality, odor and air pollutants - and the whole package may
well support applying the technology on a larger scale.
"And now that we've built the concept, we need to build confidence.
"Companies are understandably reluctant to participate without reliable
estimates of the benefits of land management practices.
"Our charge is to take down the barrier of doubt, confusion, and
"In fact, President Bush has said that "our government will ... move
forward ... to create world-class standards for measuring and registering
"To realize the heart of the President's plan -- transferable credits -- we
need a first-class reporting system that's clear, consistent, and credible.
"The greenhouse gas registry, after all, will be the marketplace, where
companies looking for low-cost offsets will get reduction credits from
farmers and others who have met the registry's criteria.
"The way we see it, for this crediting system to work, the reporting
guidelines must be straightforward and practical.
"They must be simple enough to use, offer technical support to make sure
they're adopted, and generate confidence in the reported actions.
" USDA will host two meetings in January as we develop guidelines for
agriculture and forestry offsets that will stand behind the accuracy of the
"We recognize as we move forward that there are many open questions. This
is as it should be.
"How do we best build partnerships with the private sector and accommodate
new private demands for specific environmental services?
"Greenhouse gas reductions can run the gamut of agriculture's conservation
activities. Where will they fit in the context of the many pressing
environmental demands on USDA resources?
"How do we consider the roles for public versus private incentives?
"We don't have all the answers -- that's where you come in. But we're
"Important decisions will be made in the next year, decisions based on
partnership and the best of federal-private cooperation, and I thank you for
being part of this process."
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