The U.S. Department of Agriculture provided the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) with new accounting rules and guidelines for reporting greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration in the forest and agriculture sectors.  

“Agriculture has a unique opportunity to be part of the solution to greenhouse gas emissions,” said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. “The Bush administration is committed to addressing greenhouse gas emissions and these guidelines represent another significant milestone in the national effort to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of the U.S. economy.” 

DOE released the guidelines on March 22, 2005, for public comment as part of the DOE Section 1605(b) Voluntary Greenhouse Gas Reporting Registry. The revised voluntary reporting program provides agriculture and forest landowners with the ability to quantify and maintain records of actions that have greenhouse gas reduction benefits.   These actions include using no-till agriculture, installing a waste digester, improving nutrient management, and managing forestland.  The program also provides opportunities for agriculture and forestry to partner with industry in developing actions to reduce greenhouse gases.  

The new forest and agriculture guidelines, prepared by the Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, address all of the major sources in agriculture and forestry.  The guidelines offer farmers and ranchers a new online tool called COMET-VR, which provides a simple and reliable method for estimating soil carbon sequestration.  The technical guidelines for forests include a series of detailed carbon stock default tables with guidance on applying the tables for inventory purposes, direct measurement protocols, and guidance on the use of models.

Under the revised guidelines for the Section 1605(b) Voluntary Greenhouse Gas Reporting Registry, emitters of greenhouse gases, such as utilities, manufacturers and other businesses, will be able to register entity-wide greenhouse gas emission reductions achieved after 2002 if they also provide entity-wide emissions inventory data.   Small entities, such as farms and small businesses will be encouraged to participate through simplified reporting and registration provisions.  The guidelines will help reduce overall greenhouse has emissions as well as improving the accuracy, verifiability and completeness of greenhouse gas emission data reported to the Federal Government. 

The guidelines will be published in the Federal Register for a 60-day public comment period and are expected to become effective 180 days from publication.

Two public workshops are planned to discuss these latest revisions to the guidelines.   The first, to be held by DOE in late April, will address the full scope of issues raised by the guidelines.  USDA and DOE will jointly host a workshop on May 5, 2005 that will focus on those issues raised by the agricultural and forestry sections of the guidelines.  

More information on these workshops and on the guidelines being released today will be available at www.usda.gov/oce/gcpo/greenhousegasreporting.htm and www.pi.energy.gov/enhancingGHGregistry/.  

Those wishing to offer comment on the proposed guidelines can do so by e-mailing: 1605bguidelines.comments@hq.doe.gov.

USDA