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Report Reveals Blind Spot in Nation's Climate Change Strategy

PHOTO: A new report finds that more than one-fifth of all U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions come from fossil fuels extracted on taxpayer-owned federal lands and waters. Photo credit: Stephen Codrington/Wikimedia Commons.
PHOTO: A new report finds that more than one-fifth of all U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions come from fossil fuels extracted on taxpayer-owned federal lands and waters. Photo credit: Stephen Codrington/Wikimedia Commons.
March 20, 2015

DENVER - A new report has uncovered a blind spot in the nation's climate-change strategy. More than one-fifth of all U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions are connected to fossil fuels extracted from taxpayer-owned federal lands and waters.

The report maintains that the U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees the nation's public assets, has no plan to measure, monitor or reduce emissions - although there have been indications recently that the agency is considering the issue.

"Any comprehensive strategy to address climate change should incorporate accounting for and reducing these emissions," said Claire Moser, research and advocacy associate at the Center for American Progress.

The report cites coal production on federal lands as the biggest culprit, responsible for more than half of the emissions estimated for 2012. Wyoming, Colorado and Montana produced 93 percent of coal-related CO2 emissions, with Colorado contributing more than 49 million metric tons.

The report estimates that between 2008 and 2013, methane emissions connected to flaring or venting rose more than 51 percent. The report also found that so-called fugitive emissions from the production, processing and distribution of fossil fuels is an even more significant source of methane.

Joshua Mantell, government-relations representative for The Wilderness Society, said getting accurate information is key to creating solutions.

"Making sure that we are able to monitor and measure all of the greenhouse gases that can be traced back to lands that all Americans own, I think, is a very important step," he said.

The report's analysis was based on independent research conducted by Stratus Consulting, jointly commissioned by The Wilderness Society and The Center for American Progress. The study, "Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Fossil Energy Extracted from Federal Lands and Waters: An Update," is online at wilderness.org.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO