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Rural Groups Lay Out Climate-Change Priorities

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Monday, December 7, 2015   

ST. PAUL, Minn. – As world leaders continue to discuss this week at the Paris climate talks how to limit greenhouse gas emissions, rural groups back home in the U.S. are laying out their environmental concerns.

Members of the Rural Climate Network have compiled a list of issues on which they want to see the U.S. climate policy focus.

Tara Ritter, climate and rural communities program associate with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), says the report, called Rural Climate Policy Priorities: Solutions from the Ground, covers a wide range of issues.

"Rural areas have different concerns,” she points out. “They generally have longer travel distances between destinations, different energy use, different building stock, different industries that their economies are based upon. We weren't seeing those concerns reflected in climate policy."

The report lists recommendations for 10 areas that members agree are important to the diverse rural communities.

These include suggestions such as how to keep the U.S. agriculture industry resilient to extreme weather conditions and how federal agencies can do more to help conserve local ecosystems.

One of the biggest issues at the Paris talks is figuring out how to curb the pollution that fuels extreme weather events and puts our health at risk.

Ritter says one of the key ways the U.S. can help rural communities do that is by incentivizing clean energy infrastructure projects or making renewable energy production a priority.

"There are already so many incentives for fossil fuels that, in order to level the playing field, we need to see some clean energy incentives to get that industry up and running and going even stronger than it already is," Ritter states.

Many rural communities across the country already are moving away form extraction-based energy, including Becker, Minnesota, where the Sherco coal-fired power plant soon may be closed.

Ritter says those communities will need assistance to make those changes.

You can find the full report at Ruralclimatenetwork.org.





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