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Archive for Monday, June 16, 2003

Fossil fuels, nuclear power complicate U.S., European energy partnership

June 16, 2003

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— The Bush administration wants to enlist European support for an international partnership to develop hydrogen energy, but differences over fossil fuels and nuclear power are complicating the talks.

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, who was to outline the administration's hydrogen policy at a conference today in Belgium, planned to emphasize that the United States was committed to developing renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. But the United States also is determined to find ways to build pollution-free coal-burning plants and use nuclear reactors to produce hydrogen.

The Europeans will hear that the United States is looking at all these options and that half of the research money into hydrogen sources, part of a $1.7 billion program proposed by President Bush, involves renewables.

But some European leaders believe the administration is far less committed than Europe to research into renewable energy, which they want to make the cornerstone of a hydrogen energy economy.

The vision held by both the Europeans and Americans is for hydrogen fuel cells to replace polluting coal-burning power plants and to end the need for gasoline and pollution-spewing automobiles. Fuel cells use hydrogen and oxygen to produce power, with only water as a byproduct.

Environmentalists contend that a push for renewable energy technology such as wind and solar power -- and not fossil fuels -- is the answer.

Many Europeans have embraced the argument.

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