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Rural Groups Push Their Climate-Change Priorities

As the COP 21 climate talks wind down in Paris, rural organizations, leaders and experts are laying out their environmental concerns. (Kevin_P/
As the COP 21 climate talks wind down in Paris, rural organizations, leaders and experts are laying out their environmental concerns. (Kevin_P/
December 10, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. – The Paris climate talks will come to an end Friday, and as world leaders continue to discuss how to limit greenhouse gas emissions, rural groups back in the United States are laying out their environmental concerns.

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

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."

Some rural states such as North Dakota tend to be more oil dependent, but also host more of the U.S. biofuels industry.

The report lists recommendations on how to balance those fuel and economic needs with more sustainable alternatives.

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 states such as North Dakota do that is by incentivizing more clean energy infrastructure projects.

"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," she states.

In recent years, North Dakota has seen an increase in oil and gas extraction. Ritter says this comes as other rural communities across the country are moving away form extraction-based energy.

You can find the full report at

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - ND