[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 166 (Tuesday, August 27, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 52898-52899]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-20701]



[[Page 52898]]

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

[Docket Number: USDA-2013-0003]


Science-Based Methods for Entity-Scale Quantification of 
Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks From Agriculture and Forestry 
Practices

AGENCY: Office of the Chief Economist, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of availability for public comment.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has prepared a 
report containing methods for quantifying entity-scale greenhouse gas 
(GHG) emissions and removals from the agriculture and forestry sectors. 
The purpose of this notice is to seek input from the public on the 
proposed methods. This report was prepared in part to meet requirements 
of Section 2709 of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008. The 
report was prepared by 38 technical experts and reviewed by 29 
scientific reviewers. USDA anticipates that the methods will be used by 
landowners and USDA to improve management practices and identify 
actions to reduce GHG emissions and increase carbon sequestration. The 
guidelines and methods could also be used by farmers, ranchers, and 
forest owners to facilitate their participation in voluntary state and 
regional GHG registries and programs. Notice of the project was 
announced in the Federal Register in February, 2011 (FR Doc. 2011-3731, 
p. 9534, Feb 18 2011). Comments received under this notice will be used 
to further refine the methods report in preparation for publication as 
a USDA Technical Bulletin. Comments submitted will help USDA to gauge 
the appropriateness and completeness of the proposed methods as well as 
methodological or data concerns that should be considered. A series of 
questions have been provided in the supplementary information below to 
aid review.
    When submitting responses, please annotate comments using the 
report section number designations. All information received will be 
included in the public docket and made available online at http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. Do 
not include any information that might be considered proprietary or 
confidential.

DATES: Responses to this notice should be submitted by 11:59 p.m. 
Eastern Time on October 11, 2013.

ADDRESSES: The report is available for download from the project Web 
site at www.usda.gov/oce/climate_change/estimation.htm, and within the 
Federal Docket as noted below. If you are unable to access the report 
from one of these Web sites, contact the Climate Change Program Office 
via the contact details below.
    Responses to this notice must be submitted electronically through 
the regulations.gov portal at http://www.regulations.gov, Docket 
USDA-2013-0003. Follow the online instructions for submitting 
comments. Http://www.regulations.gov is an ``anonymous access'' system, 
which means USDA will not know your identity or contact information 
unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you are unable to 
submit your responses through the web portal, consider these 
alternative submission methods:
     Via email to techguide@oce.usda.gov;
     Via fax to 202-401-1176; or,
     Via courier delivery to Marlen Eve, USDA Climate Change 
Program Office, 1400 Independence Ave SW., Room 4407 South Bldg, 
Washington, DC 20250.
    Responses submitted through email, fax or courier will be recorded 
in full, including any identity and contact information.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Any questions about the content of 
this notice should be sent to Marlen Eve, USDA Climate Change Program 
Office, via Email techguide@oce.usda.gov, Telephone 202-401-0979, or 
Fax 202-401-1176. Additional information on the project can be found at 
www.usda.gov/oce/climate_change/estimation.htm.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Climate Change Program Office (CCPO) 
operates within the Office of the Chief Economist at USDA and functions 
as the Department-wide focal point on agriculture, rural, and forestry-
related climate change activities. The CCPO ensures that USDA is a 
source of objective, analytical assessments of the effects of climate 
change and proposed response strategies. This project addresses the 
need for scientifically-sound, Department-wide guidelines for 
quantifying GHG emissions and carbon sequestration at the farm-, 
forest- and entity-scale. The report and other products developed by 
this project will be useful in assessing the carbon and GHG related 
environmental service benefits of various agricultural and forestry 
management practices and technologies. Supplementary information on the 
project is included below.
    Project scope. USDA has created a comprehensive set of GHG 
inventory methods that builds upon existing estimation and inventory 
efforts with the aim of providing transparent and robust inventory 
guidelines and reporting tools. The methods address direct greenhouse 
gas emissions and carbon sequestration from agriculture and forest 
management at the farm, ranch or forest boundary. This report does not 
establish a GHG crediting framework or address policy issues related to 
crediting GHG reductions such as additionality or leakage.
    The following GHG sources and sinks are addressed in the report:

Croplands/Grazing Lands

     Biomass carbon stock changes;
     Soil organic carbon stocks for mineral soils;
     Soil organic carbon stocks for organic soils;
     Direct nitrous oxide emissions from mineral soils;
     Direct nitrous oxide emissions from drainage of organic 
soils;
     Indirect nitrous oxide emissions;
     Methane uptake by soils;
     Methane and nitrous oxide emissions from rice cultivation;
     Carbon dioxide emissions from liming;
     Methane and nitrous oxide emissions from biomass burning; 
and
     Carbon dioxide emissions from urea fertilizer application.

Managed Wetlands

     Biomass carbon stock changes;
     Soil carbon stock changes; and
     Methane and nitrous oxide emissions.

Animal Production Systems

     Enteric fermentation and animal housing emissions;
     Solid manure storage and treatment emissions;
     Liquid manure storage and treatment emissions; and
     Manure application emissions.

Forestry

     Forest carbon stock changes;
     Establishing, re-establishing, and clearing forests;
     Forest management;
     Harvested wood products;
     Urban forestry; and
     Natural disturbances.

Land Use Change

     Dead wood carbon;
     Carbon in litter; and
     Soil organic carbon in mineral soils.
    Methods have not been delineated for all of the sources considered. 
In some

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cases, the authors note that more research, additional data and/or 
extrapolation of current information are needed in order to establish a 
method. These research and data gaps are highlighted in the report. An 
approach to uncertainty assessment is also proposed.
    Specifically, USDA requests comments on:
    1. Are sources of GHG emissions or sinks missing? Are the methods 
provided complete? Are there potential inconsistencies in and across 
the methods?
    2. Are the proposed methods suitable for estimating GHG emissions 
at the farm-, forest- or entity-scale while meeting the selection 
criteria of transparency, consistency, comparability, completeness, 
accuracy, cost effectiveness, and ease of use?
    3. Are new (or additional) data sources available for calculating 
emission factors?
    4. Are there additional management practices for which the science 
and data are clear, and which should be addressed in the methods 
report? If yes, please provide details.
    5. Are the methods appropriate across a variety of farm and forest 
entities as well as applicable to operations of any size?
    6. Are the research gaps clearly identified? Are there additional 
gaps to note, or new data sources that significantly address any of the 
listed gaps?
    Persons with disabilities who require alternate means for 
communication of program information (Braille, large print, audio tape, 
etc.) should contact the USDA's Target Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice 
and TDD).

    Dated: August 20, 2013.
Joseph Glauber,
Chief Economist.
[FR Doc. 2013-20701 Filed 8-26-13; 8:45 am]
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