Rising temperatures bring an increased risk of wildfire.

Bybee Fire Photo by Alan Journet

Alan Journet Rogue Valley Times September 21st 2023

In a recent Our View, we see a discussion of a climate study that adds fuel to an existing fire. It’s always important in such discussions to consider the evidence and the science.

Rogue Valley and West Coast residents are familiar with the rainfall pattern: Every summer our grass turns brown and dries out. Then come the winter rains, and everything revives to a gorgeous green. This pattern has existed here for millennia. Once summer arrives, we can count on dry days and nights producing semi-drought conditions almost annually, conditions that only break when winter rains return.


SOCAN’s response to the Board of Forestry regarding  efforts by the timber industry to undermine the Habitat Conservation Plan developed by the Oregon Department of Forestry following the Private Forest Accord


Alan R.P. Journet Ph.D.
Southern Oregon Climate Action Now
September 5th 2023


Chair Kelly and members of the Oregon Board of Forestry

Reference: Efforts to undermine the Habitat Conservation Plan

I write as cofacilitator of Southern Oregon Climate Action Now (SOCAN https://socan.eco ), an organization of over 2,000 rural Southern Oregonians who are concerned about the climate crisis and urge statewide action to address it. The mission of SOCAN is to promote awareness and understanding of the science of global warming and its climate chaos consequences and stimulate individual and collective action to address it. Since rural Oregonians occupy the frontlines in experiencing the impact of the drought, shrinking snowpack, wildfires and extreme weather that the climate crisis imposes, we are strongly committed to statewide action.

It is in this context that we watched the developing the Private Forest Accord and consequent Habitat Conservation Plan with great interest.

The Habitat Conservation Plan was developed (PFA 2022) to assure habitat for:

  • All native salmon and trout (Oncorhynchus spp.)
    ● Bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus)
    ● Mountain whitefish (Prosopium williamsoni)
    ● Pacific eulachon/smelt (Thaleichthys pacificus)
    ● Green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris)
    ● Columbia torrent salamander (Rhyacotriton kezeri)
    ● Southern torrent salamander (Rhyacotriton variegatus)
    ● Coastal giant salamander (Dicamptodon tenebrosus)
    ● Cope’s giant salamander (Dicamptodon copei)
    ● Coastal tailed frog (Ascaphus truei)

The planning process, undertaken by the Oregon Department of Forestry, combined best available science with extensive public input producing a plan that served the defined goals.  It is unfortunate that once developed, in an effort to increase timber harvest, the plan has fallen prey to timber industry criticism and efforts to undermine it by appeals to the Governor and the Board.

According to statute the Greatest Permanent Value for managing Oregon’s forests includes an array of goals in ORS 530.050 (ORS undated):

Management of lands acquired; powers of forester; rules, Oregon’s forests should be managed for their Greatest Permanent Value.  This comprises:

(1) Protect the lands from fire, disease and insect pests, cooperate with the counties and with persons owning lands within the state in the protection of the lands and enter into all agreements necessary or convenient for the protection of the lands.

(2) Sell forest products from the lands, and execute mining leases and contracts as provided for in ORS 273.551.

(3) Enter into and administer contracts for the sale of timber from lands owned or managed by the State Board of Forestry and the State Forestry Department.

(4) Enter into and administer contracts for activities necessary or convenient for the sale of timber under subsection (3) of this section, either separately from or in conjunction with contracts for the sale of timber, including but not limited to activities such as timber harvesting and sorting, transporting, gravel pit development or operation, and road construction, maintenance or improvement.

(5) Permit the use of the lands for other purposes, including but not limited to forage and browse for domestic livestock, fish and wildlife environment, landscape effect, protection against floods and erosion, recreation, and protection of water supplies when, in the opinion of the board, the use is not detrimental to the best interest of the state.

(6) Grant easements, permits and licenses over, through and across the lands. The State Forester may require and collect reasonable fees or charges relating to the location and establishment of easements, permits and licenses granted by the state over the lands. The fees and charges collected shall be used exclusively for the expenses of locating and establishing the easements, permits and licenses under this subsection and shall be placed in the State Forestry Department Account.

(7) Require and collect fees or charges for the use of state forest roads. The fees or charges collected shall be used exclusively for the purposes of maintenance and improvements of the roads and shall be placed in the State Forestry Department Account.

(8) Reforest the lands and cooperate with the counties, and with persons owning timberlands within the state, in the reforestation, and make all agreements necessary or convenient for the reforestation.

(9) Require such undertakings as in the opinion of the board are necessary or convenient to secure performance of any contract entered into under the terms of this section or ORS 273.551.

(10) Sell rock, sand, gravel, pumice and other such materials from the lands. The sale may be negotiated without bidding, provided the appraised value of the materials does not exceed $2,500.

(11) Enter into agreements, each for not more than 10 years duration, for the production of minor forest products.

(12) Establish a forestry carbon offset program to market, register, transfer or sell forestry carbon offsets. In establishing the program, the forester may:

(a) Execute any contracts or agreements necessary to create opportunities for the creation of forestry carbon offsets; and

(b) Negotiate prices that are at, or greater than, fair market value for the transfer or sale of forestry carbon offsets.

It is important to note that the Greatest Permanent Value is not restricted to providing timber products, but includes serving an array of service, recreational and forest health benefits.  We note particularly that item 12 establishes a carbon offset program.  Clearly, the Greatest Permanent Value acknowledges the critical role our forests play in sequestering carbon, a reality also reflected in the passage during the 2023 Oregon Legislative Session of SB530, the natural climate solutions bill (Olis 2023a), as part of the climate package, HB3409 (Olis 2023b). That substantial carbon is stored in Oregon’s forests is recognized almost universally (e.g., OFRI 2020, Oregon Wild 2019, Christensen et al. 2019, Law et al. 2022).

What seems to be less widely recognized, however, is the role forest logging operations play in the emissions of carbon. Indeed, evidence suggests that emissions from logging are actually greater than those resulting from transportation.  That the impacts of logging are not reported in the DEQ data (e.g., DEQ 2022) on greenhouse gas emissions (Hudiburg et al. 2019) is presumably a function of DEQ’s lack of authority to measure this sector.

Evidence that logging operations constitute a threat to Oregon’s environment was discussed by Schick 2017) in relation to water concerns. That some forestry operators are guilty of violating air quality standards was reported more recently by Bonham (2023). Law et al. 2018 reported that during the period 2011-2015 carbon dioxide emissions from “net wood product emissions were 34.45 million tCO2e and almost 10-fold fire emissions…” Notably, during this same period, emissions from the largest sector reported by DEQ (transportation) fluctuated around 21-22 million tCO2e (OGWC 2017). Emissions from forestry operations are some 1.5 times the worst sector reported by DEQ.

Since the focus of SOCAN is on the climate crisis and the carbon balance in our forests, we are particularly concerned about any proposal that promotes an increase in logging which seems to be exactly what the proposed modifications to the HCP seek.  Not only does the logging of mature trees eliminate the ability of those trees to sequester further carbon, the logging and processing of that timber also emits substantial greenhouse gas (Law et al. 2018).  In defense of logging, proponents often argue that considerable carbon is stored in wood products, but this is simply untrue.  While certainly some carbon is stored, this is a very small percentage of the carbon either in the harvested tree or the harvested ecosystem. Thus, Ingerson (2007) reports results from Smith et al. (2006) and Gower et al. (2006) that indicate that the percentage of carbon ending up in forest products following harvest and processing, and allowing for emissions from this and product transportation, amounts to a scant 15%. Meanwhile, Hudiburg et al. (2019) report: “In just over 100 years, Oregon has removed the equivalent of all live trees in the state’s Coast Range forests (Law et al. 2018) and returned 65% to the atmosphere and transferred 16% to landfills.” This leaves just 19% of the harvested ecosystem carbon that is stored in wood products. In short, while some carbon is assuredly retained in wood products, the vast majority is not and is simply consigned to the atmosphere.

Another argument of proponents of logging is that the newly planted trees sequester carbon rapidly to replace that which was harvested and compensate for the compromised potential for ongoing sequestration of harvested trees. Regrettably, however, it takes decades for a seedling to reach the storage capacity of a harvested tree or the rate of sequestration of that harvested mature tree. Douglas fir, for example, at 5 years captures 0.0005 pounds of carbon, while at 50 years, this climbs to 0.1763 pounds. Then, at 100 years this reaches 0.7658 pounds while at 200 years, it becomes 2.0714 pounds and at 300 years 5.6028 pounds (Treeplantation 2023). Koberstein and Applegate (2019) identify the trends in aging forest stands as follows: “While young forests tend to absorb more carbon overall because trees can be crowded together when they’re small, a tree’s carbon absorption rate accelerates as it ages. This means that forests comprised of tall, old trees – like the temperate rainforests of North America’s Pacific coast – are some of the planet’s biggest carbon storehouses.” Griscom et al. 2017., considering the benefits of Natural Climate Solutions, argue that they “provide a comprehensive analysis of options to mitigate climate change by increasing carbon sequestration and reducing emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases through conservation, restoration, and improved management practices in forest, wetland, and grassland biomes.” They further suggest that “While some activities can be implemented without reducing wood yield (e.g., reduced-impact logging), other activities (e.g., extended harvest cycles) would result in reduced near-term yields.” It seems that those engaged in natural resource management have to make decisions regarding priorities: is it more important to harvest forests or manage them for carbon sequestration to protect our climate and life on the planet as we know it? A vote for logging as opposed to habitat protection and carbon sequestration constitutes a vote against the conservation of life as we know it. Meanwhile, Ameray et al. 2021 report: “the old-growth forest conservation strategy results in greater carbon storage in soils than do extensive and intensive forest management.” If Oregon’s forests are to be managed for carbon sequestration, as suggested in SB530 (Olis 2023a), increasing logging is not the optimal route.

Studies have suggested how future climate conditions might affect the viability of critical western tree species (Crookston and Radtke 2023, CBI undated). These analyses explore the current climate where western tree species thrive and compared these to future climate conditions given a variety of greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. They have clearly indicated that the viability and distribution of many ecologically and commercially important tree species will be compromised by anticipated climate change. Yet, the timber industry continues to resist efforts to curtail the underlying causes of the climate crisis that will threaten their industry. Instead, they petition for continued logging and continued greenhouse gas emissions, compounding the problem they will inevitably face through the century absent substantial effort to curtail emissions.

After years of apparent good faith negotiations, the conservation groups and the timber industry arrived at an agreement that resulted in the Habitat Conservation Plan.  Instead of abiding by the agreement reached during this discussion, the timber industry petitioned for an exception to allow increased logging and increased greenhouse gas emissions. As Oregon and our state agencies grapple with the problem of addressing climate change, time and again corporations engage in the process claiming good faith and a commitment to addressing the climate crisis and reducing emissions. Yet, once agreements have been reached and programs have been developed, these same corporations launch efforts either through rulemaking or through judicial action to undermine the agreements that they were involved in developing.  This occurred with the Climate Protection Program where fossil fuel corporations now seek weakening of the program endorsed by the Environmental Quality Commission. This occurs despite the fact that the program resulted from rulemaking discussions in which they engaged. Now, we see the timber industry reneging on the agreement that they accepted and trying to undermine it by appeals to the Governor and Board of Forestry.  This corporate track record suggests that conservation and climate activists should be wary of future negotiations that demand the acceptance of good faith efforts on the part of corporations.

In the case of the Forest Accord and associated Habitat Conservation Plan, which were developed as a means to avoid an expensive ballot measure dispute, the message here is unfortunate. It suggests that conservation groups should return to the ballot measure as a means of curtailing the overharvesting and environmental destruction that seem to be the modus operandi of the timber industry.

The time surely has arrived when all of us in our personal and professional lives should do whatever we can to address the climate crisis.  We therefore urge the Board of Forestry to reject the proposed increase in logging and return to the HCA accepted by conservation groups and the timber industry. Failure to reject the proposed amendment will send a clear message to conservation and climate organizations that the Board of Forestry cannot be trusted to abide by agreements.

As evident, since the focus for Southern Oregon Climate Action Now is addressing the climate crisis by promoting carbon sequestration in our forests, this is the arena in which our comments focus. While we understand the concerns expressed by conservation groups regarding the proposed abridgment of the HCP, we will leave them to comment on that aspect of this effort by the timber industry to torpedo agreements.

Sources Cited:

Ameray A, Bergerson Y, Valeria O, Montoro Girona M, Cavard X 2021 Forest Carbon Management: a Review of Silvicultural Practices and Management Strategies Across Boreal, Temperate and Tropical Forests. Current Forestry Reports https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40725-021-00151-w

Bonham R 2023 Sawmill violated emissions standards more than 40 times over eight-day period, DEQ says. KEZI https://www.kezi.com/news/sawmill-violated-emissions-standards-more-than-400-times-over-eight-day-period-deq-says/article_8737e3ee-e611-11ed-8cee-7765a54f8382.html

CBI undated Species Potential Habitat Tool, Conservation Biology Institute. https://specieshabitattool.org/spht/

Christensen G, Gray A, Kuegler O, Yost A 2019 Oregon Forest Ecosystem Carbon Inventory: 2001-2016. U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, and the Oregon Department of Forestry. https://www.oregon.gov/odf/ForestBenefits/Documents/Forest%20Carbon%20Study/OR-Forest-Ecosystem-Carbon-2001-2016-Report-FINAL.pdf

Crookston N and Radtke P 2023 Plant Species and Climate Profile Predictions. Virginia Tech. https://charcoal2.cnre.vt.edu/climate/species/

DEQ 2022 Oregon Greenhouse Gas Sector-based Inventory Data: Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990-2021. Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. https://www.oregon.gov/deq/ghgp/pages/ghg-inventory.aspx

Gower ST; McKeon-Reudifer A; Bradley M; Refkin DJ; Tollefson T; Souba FJ; Taup A; Embury-Williams L; Schiavone S; WeinBauer J; Hanetos AC; Jarvis R 2006 Following the paper trail: the impact of magazine and dimension lumber production on greenhouse gas emissions: a case study. The H. John Heinz II Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment, Washington DC
No longer electronically available.

Griscum B, Adams J, Ellis P, Fargione J 2017 Natural climate solutions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 14 (44) 11645-11650. https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.1710465114

Hudiburg T, Law B, Moomaw W, Harmon M, Stenzel J. 2019 Meeting GHG reduction targets requires accounting for all forest sector emissions. Environmental Research Letters 14 095005. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab28bb

Ingerson A 2009. Wood Products and Carbon Storage: Can Increased Production Help Solve the Climate Crisis? The Wilderness Society https://www.sierraforestlegacy.org/Resources/Conservation/FireForestEcology/ThreatsForestHealth/Climate/CI-Ingerson-TWS2009.pdf

Koberstein P and Applegate 2019 Tall and old or dense and young: Which kind of forest is better for the climate? Mongabay https://news.mongabay.com/2019/05/tall-and-old-or-dense-and-young-which-kind-of-forest-is-better-for-the-climate/

Law B, Berner L, Mildrexler D, Bloemers R, Ripple Q 2022 Strategic reserves in Oregon’s forests for biodiversity, water, and carbon to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change 5:1028401.  https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/ffgc.2022.1028401/full

OFRI 2020 Carbon in Oregon’s managed forests. Oregon Forest Resources Institute. https://oregonforests.org/sites/default/files/2020-07/OFRI_CarbonSpecialReport_DIGITAL.pdf

OGWC 2017 Oregon Global Warming Commission Biennial Report to the Legislature 2017. Oregon Global Warming Commission. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/59c554e0f09ca40655ea6eb0/t/59dd4984a8b2b090a38f07a1/1507674513035/2017-OGWC-Legislative-Report.pdf

OLIS 2023a 2023 Regular Session. SB530A Oregon State Legislature Oregon Legislative Information. https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2023R1/Measures/Overview/SB530

Olis 2023b 2023 Regular Session HB3409 Enrolled. Oregon State Legislature Oregon Legislative Information. https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2023R1/Measures/Overview/HB3409

Oregon Wild 2019 Forest-Carbon 101. Oregon Wild https://oregonwild.org/forests/climate-change/forest-carbon-101

ORS undated Chapter 530 — State Forests; Community Forests Oregon State Statues. https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/bills_laws/ors/ors530.html

PFA 2022 Private Forest Accord.  Oregon Department of Forestry https://www.oregon.gov/odf/aboutodf/documents/2022-odf-private-forest-accord-report.pdf

Schick T 2017 After Pushback, Oregon Scraps Report Linking Private Forests To Water Quality Risks. Oregon Public Broadcasting. https:// https://www.opb.org/news/article/oregon-private-forests-to-water-quality-risks/

Smith, J, Heath, L, Skog, K. and Birdsey, R. 2006. Methods for calculating forest ecosystem and harvested carbon with standard estimates for forest types of the United States. Gen.                    Tech. Rep. NE-243. Newtown Sq., PA. USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station. 216 p. https://www.fs.usda.gov/research/treesearch/22954

Treeplantation 2023 Use The Free Online Tree Carbon Calculator To Calculate How Much Carbon A Tree Captures. Tree Plantation. https://treeplantation.com/tree-carbon-calculator.html

Respectfully Submitted

Alan Journet

‘It’s time to do something’: Push is on to replace open-ditch irrigation canals with piping

Shaun Hall, Rogue Valley Times, August 14 2023

A big push is underway in Jackson County and Oregon to replace open-ditch irrigation canals with piping to reduce water loss through seepage and evaporation.

The mission by irrigation districts to modernize aging systems comes at a time of increased state and federal funding that is expected to help make the projects a reality.

The touted benefits of piping and related upgrades includes increased reliability of water through conservation, particularly in times of drought.

Not everybody loves the idea of doing away with canals, however. There’s been some opposition in the past in Bend and Ashland from people who prefer open ditches for their aesthetics and value to wildlife.

Damian Mann, Rogue Valley Times, March 7th 2023

Main Street in downtown Medford will welcome the city’s first-of-its-kind, two-way bike lane this fall.

A plan is in the works to convert a vehicle travel lane from Bear Creek to Oakdale Avenue into a separate mini-roadway just for cyclists.

“This may be the first one in the Rogue Valley,” said Ann Smith, a member of the Siskiyou Velo board of directors. “We’re hoping other cities in the area look at this.”


Every year, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) publishes a scorecard evaluating the performance of Senate and House legislators. The 2022 scorecard is now available at here.

Alan R.P. Journet Ph.D.
Southern Oregon Climate Action Now
February 21st 2023




Chair Marsh and members of the House Committee on Climate, Energy and Environment:

I write as cofacilitator of Southern Oregon Climate Action Now (SOCAN), an organization of over 2,000 rural Southern Oregonians who are concerned about the climate crisis and urge statewide action to address it. The mission of SOCAN is to promote awareness and understanding of the science of global warming and its climate chaos consequences and stimulate individual and collective action to address it. Since rural Oregonians occupy the frontlines in experiencing the impact of the drought, shrinking snowpack, wildfires and extreme weather that the climate crisis imposes, we are strongly committed to statewide action.

We are, therefore, delighted to have seen the progress that state agencies have made over the last two years in responding to Governor Brown’s Executive Order 20-04. We were just as delighted to see the legislature pass HB2021 two years ago requiring that retail electricity in Oregon shall be generated using 100% clean energy by 2040.

Since Oregon became a national leader in addressing the climate crisis in 2007 with HB3543 the state has drifted back in the pack. The reason we drifted back is because the program was voluntary, a reality that allowed recalcitrant businesses to evade their responsibility for stepping up.  It was not until EO 20-04 and HB2021 that Oregon regained a measure of leadership. But now, the same entities and mindset that caused our state to drift are returning to take advantage of loopholes in programs and policies whenever they can. One such problem is energy users that link in to generation facilities not covered by HB2021 such as public power utilities and Idaho Power.

Heavy duty energy users such as data centers and cryptocurrency mining operations are chief among the offenders. It’s time to close the loophole!

Those of us living in rural Southern Oregon are offended that businesses are attempting to by-pass the requirements of HB2021 and thereby increase our risk of suffering reduced snowpack, drought, wildfire, and heatwaves. We urge the legislature to correct this oversight and ensure everyone plays by the same rules.

The climate crisis is being driven by everyone who uses energy that is derived from fossil fuels. If we are to avert the looming crisis, we must ALL collaborate together to address it.

For these reasons Southern Oregon Climate Action Now urges passage of HB 2816

Respectfully Submitted

Alan Journet

Alan R.P. Journet Ph.D.
Southern Oregon Climate Action Now
February 21st 2023


Reference HB3056

Chair Marsh and members of the House Committee on Climate, Energy and Environment:

I write as cofacilitator of Southern Oregon Climate Action Now (SOCAN), an organization of over 2,000 rural Southern Oregonians who are concerned about the climate crisis and urge statewide action to address it. The mission of SOCAN is to promote awareness and understanding of the science of global warming and its climate chaos consequences and stimulate individual and collective action to address it. Since rural Oregonians occupy the frontlines in experiencing the impact of the drought, shrinking snowpack, wildfires and extreme weather that the climate crisis imposes, we are strongly committed to statewide action.

Buildings and Climate Pollution

We understand fully that building operations contribute substantially to both the global and U.S. total carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Rukikaire and Loran (2022) reported that globally buildings account for 34% of energy demand and some 37% of carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile, quoting International Energy Agency (IEA) data, Architecture 230 (2022) reported that buildings contribute 40% of annual global carbon dioxide emissions, of which 27% results from operations and 13% from construction (the so-called embodied carbon emissions in buildings). Meanwhile, Leung (2018) reported that for the U.S., buildings account for 29% of the greenhouse gas emissions annually. She also reported that in commercial buildings, Heating, Cooling and Ventilation account for 30% of the total emissions, while in residential buildings, this value is 38%. There can be little doubt that heating and cooling our buildings collectively contribute substantially to the climate crisis. This implies that anything we can do to reduce building emissions would be beneficial in addressing the climate crisis.

This also leads to our understanding that addressing the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) component would be a great contribution Therefore, anything we can do to encourage the use of more efficient HVAC technologies will reduce statewide emissions, especially if this is restricted to technology that is powered by electricity rather than fossil gas (see below).Fortunately, passage of HB2021 in 2020 affects the source of our electricity, requiring it to be 100% clean by 2040. Therefore, the benefit of electricity will only increase.

Energy.gov (undated) argues that: “Heat pumps offer an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces and air conditioners for all climates.” The benefit, furthermore, is stated as: “Today’s heat pump can reduce your electricity use for heating by approximately 50% compared to electric resistance heating such as furnaces and baseboard heaters.” The heat pump technology is clearly advantageous compared to conventional systems and should be encouraged.

The Drawback of Fossil Gas (= Methane or Natural Gas)

The fossil fuel euphemistically called ‘natural gas’ is a fossil fuel composed of 70 – 90% (API 2021) methane, but when delivered to our homes, it is almost pure methane {Naturalgas.org 2013). Like other fossil fuels, when combusted, either in the power plant to generate electricity or in the home for heating or cooking, the gas produces carbon dioxide. Table 1 reports the pounds of carbon dioxide emitted per million BTUs of energy generated from fossil fuels.

Table 1 seems to suggest that in terms of combustion emissions of carbon dioxide, fossil gas is an improvement over other fossil fuels. Unfortunately for the gas companies, this is not the whole story. In all energy resource cases, we must undertake full lifecycle assessment of emissions. In the case of gas, we go to the source and start there. The gas must first be extracted and processed, and then transmitted under pressure through pipelines to target end users. The first catch is that throughout the life cycle, gas leaks. In addition, unlike carbon dioxide which has a half-life of centuries to millennia in the atmosphere, methane has a half-life of only about a decade. The second catch arises from the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of the gas. Methane is over 80 times worse than carbon dioxide as a global warming gas on a 20-year basis and nearly 30 times worse on a 100-year basis (IPCC 2021). It will be readily evident that this means not much methane has to leak to negate the combustion benefit depicted in Table 1.

In the popular press, the focus on what is driving global warming and thus the climate change consequences, carbon dioxide is often identified as the culprit. While carbon dioxide is assuredly the most important driver, it is accompanied by several other gases, notably methane, nitrous oxides and human-generated fluorinated gases. Several years ago, NOAA established an Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI) reporting the impact of various gases on the overall trend. The AGGI set 1990 as 1, and reports divergence before and after this date of the various GHG concentrations in the atmosphere, and their contribution to the overall impact. (Figure 1).

As can be seen, the AGGI in 2021 was 1.49, meaning that the impact of these gases is nearly 50% greater than in 1990. Additionally, of that 1.49 Index value, about 0.49 (nearly 50%) results from gases other than carbon dioxide.

Additionally, among these gases, methane contributes about 8%. The message is clear: we should not ignore gases other than carbon dioxide and specifically should not ignore methane, the major contributor among these other gases.

It was not until the last decade or so that studies of the leakage of methane during the fossil gas cycle were undertaken and its significance revealed. Before this realization, it was probably reasonable to argue that natural gas was the cleanest fossil fuel. That’s when the notion of natural gas as a bridge fuel to a renewable energy future was established. Regrettably, we now know this reputation is an illusion. Yet, it has remained a claim by gas companies (e.g., Neslen 2017).

Robert Howarth and colleagues from Cornell University, among others, have been studying this issue for many years. Howarth et al. (2011) were among the first to report that the range of methane emissions for conventional gas extraction and processing was 1.7 – 6.0% while that from shale extraction was 3.6 -7.9%. Howarth (2014) offered the mean for conventional natural gas extraction as 3.8% and that for shale extraction as 5.8% and reported the break-even percentage above which the gas becomes worse than coal as 2.8% assuming the 20-year GWP value for methane. The justification for using the 20-year GWP is simply that, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2018) argued net zero emissions is required by 2050, thus the length of time for action is short. This makes the 100-year value meaningless. It also means that, on average, both conventional and shale extraction produce methane emissions that rate their fossil fuel worse than coal in terms of its global warming impact. Thus, the conclusion has to be that methane (natural gas) is potentially worse than coal as a global warming fuel.

In a later report, Howarth (2019) concluded: “shale-gas production in North America over the past decade may have contributed more than half of all of the increased emissions from fossil fuels globally and approximately one-third of the total increased emissions from all sources globally over the past decade.” Zhang et al. (2020) concluded that for the largest extraction field – the Permian Basin: “[the] magnitude of emissions is 3.7% of the gross gas extracted.” Note that this is confined to Permian Basin emissions and does not include emissions from transmission out of the Basin to the end user. However, even this is substantially greater than the break-even point of 2.8%. Meanwhile, a study on 2018 emissions of methane from the full fossil gas life cycle indicates that it accounts for some 26% of the nation’s total methane emissions (Littlefield et al. 2022).

Additionally, Hmiel et al. 2020 assessed that anthropogenic methane emissions from fossil fuels represent 30% of the global source of the gas.

Assessment of the impact of emissions from fossil gas indicates that it is profoundly not ‘the clean fossil fuel’ and should be avoided as seriously as coal and oil should be avoided.

In order to maintain their market share and business model, gas companies are attempting to create the impression that they are committed to reducing climate pollution from their product. Unfortunately, the methods that they claim will achieve this goal are, at best, questionable.

A separate issue regarding fossil gas (methane) has emerged as a great concern over recent years: that regards the tremendous negative health impacts that its use in homes imposes on residents, especially, of course, children. Excellent discussions of these costs can be found in Gottlieb and Dyrszka (2017) and O’Rourke et al. (2022). Even for those denying the reality of the climate crisis, the health effects alone of continued reliance of fossil gas should warrant its rejection.

Leiserowitz et al. (2023) report that the ratio of Americans accepting that climate change is happening versus rejecting it is now about 4:1 (70%:16%) with 58% accepting that it is human-caused and only 27% thinking the cause is natural. It is time for us all to take the crisis seriously and act appropriately. HB3056 is another Oregonian step in this direction.

For these reasons, Southern Oregon Climate Action now supports HB3056, but suggests that it should preclude fossil gas heat pumps.

Respectfully Submitted



Alan Journet

Meteor Blades, Daily Kos, December 13, 2022

Just over half the Republicans in the Senate and House who take the oath of office in three weeks have expressed views in opposition to what the overwhelming majority of scientists tell us is happening with Earth’s climate. In the House, there are 110 of them, including 19 newly elected representatives. In the Senate, there are 39, including four who have been elected since 2020.  We can expect them to do everything they can in the 118th Congress to undermine any efforts to address the climate crisis that none of them publicly says is a crisis. (An updated roster of all 149 has been compiled below.)

It would be bad enough if all these lawmakers were merely fools. However, most of them know climatologists’ warnings aren’t fake news. This doesn’t stop them from continuing to regurgitate debunked propaganda that the fossil fuel industry has for four decades been paying shills to disinform the public about. Nor does it spur them to take legislative action to address what scientists say we must. They don’t care. And if fattening their wallet accompanies their not caring, so much the better.


Nov 10, 2022 | News Release Western Environmental Law Center

This month, conservation groups finalized a legal agreement with the Bureau of Land Management to reverse a Trump-era rule excluding vastly more logging in post-fire landscapes from detailed environmental review. The agreement resolves a legal challenge the groups brought against the agency in October, 2021.

“Categorical exclusions” allow agencies to approve actions having minimal environmental effects without detailed environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. The Trump rule increased the maximum area for categorical exclusions permitting logging of “dead or dying trees” from 250 acres to 3,000 acres—a 1,200% increase. The rule also doubled the maximum amount of permitted road construction from one-half to one mile of permanent road. The previous categorical exclusion rule required those roads to be temporary. The Bureau will now engage in rulemaking to remove the categorical exclusion language from its NEPA implementing procedures and revert to the old guidance. In the meantime, BLM will refrain from using the categorical exclusion.