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USA Ambassador to Canadians: We Care About Climate Change

Here’s the USA ambassador, David Wilkins, writing to Canadians, telling them that Americans do care about the environment. Wilkins writes that America cares so much about global warming that they spend “over $5-billion a year to address the problem of climate change, more than any other country in the world.”Well, whoop-de-doo. Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office put the cost of the USA attack, invasion, occupation, torture and massacre tour of Iraq at $9-billion A MONTH

Oh yeah, they care

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National Post, Page A20, 22-Apr-2006

From America, a commitment to cleaner energy

By David H. Wilkins

During my nearly eight months as U.S. Ambassador to Canada, I have learned that the many ways in which our two economies interact help make our two nations secure and prosperous. Nowhere is this more true than in the energy sector. As we celebrate Earth Day 2006, I would like to point out a few of the ways in which our two countries work together to increase energy supplies and protect the environment.

We enjoy the fruits of the largest bilateral energy relationship in the world. Canada is the largest source of U.S. imports of oil, natural gas, electricity and uranium. And the relationship works in the other direction as well — the United States exports electricity, coal and petroleum products to Canada.

Our interdependent relationship was highlighted dramatically in August, 2003, when 50 million people in Ontario and seven U.S. states suffered because of a breakdown of our shared electricity grid.

Our two countries face shared energy challenges. We need to make our respective regulatory regimes efficient, effective and compatible, to increase production in an economical and environmentally friendly manner. We have a common interest in expanding and modernizing our energy infrastructure, whether it’s approving new transmission lines, building new gas pipelines from the Arctic or deciding where to site new liquefied natural-gas facilities.

I sometimes hear that the United States should do more to conserve energy. In fact, we have very extensive programs to promote efficiency and develop clean energy sources. Last August, the U.S. President signed into law the Energy Policy Act. The Administration mobilized the vast resources of the private sector through tax incentives for developing and commercializing new energy technologies.

One well-known effort is the Energy Star program, which rates the energy efficiency of common appliances — helping businesses and individuals protect the environment and make better use of their energy dollars. Energy Star has been adopted by Canada and has received popular support.

We continue to work on new types of power options, including FutureGen, a roughly $1-billion dollar public/private venture to build the world’s first zero-emission, coal-fired power plant. FutureGen will be the cleanest fossil fuel power plant in the world, producing electricity and hydrogen. Carbon dioxide and other pollutants will be captured and stored underground, or used to enhance oil recovery. The FutureGen project is open to participation by foreign governments, and clean coal technology is an area where the United States and Canada can expand their already strong co-operation.

On climate change, some claim that the United States is “going it alone,” and that Americans do not take the issue seriously. In fact, we spend over $5-billion a year to address the problem of climate change, more than any other country in the world. About $2-billion a year goes to study climate systems and how they are affected by human activity. We spend $3-billion a year to accelerate the development and deployment of technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — such as hydrogen powered vehicles, carbon capture and storage, improving nuclear plant designs and the capture and use of methane.

Our efforts yield real results. In 2002, the President committed the United States to a comprehensive strategy to reduce our economy’s greenhouse gas “intensity” (how much we emit per unit of economic activity) by 18% by 2012. This is equivalent to removing 70 million vehicles from our highways. We are on track to exceed this goal, and our record in reducing the growth of greenhouse gas emissions is better than many signatories to the Kyoto Protocol.

The Bush Administration is committed to policies to help increase nuclear energy production. Today, about 20% of America’s electricity is generated by nuclear power, with no emissions of carbon dioxide or other harmful pollutants. Internationally, the United States remains committed to the GenIV International Forum Policy Group, which is developing technologies to improve the efficiency, safety, reliability and environmental sustainability of the next generation of nuclear reactors.

These power plants will also produce hydrogen to power cars, trucks and buses that will emit nothing more harmful than water. Our FreedomCar program is developing energy efficient and environmentally friendly transportation technologies, including hydrogen and other new propulsion systems, and advanced materials for auto components.

In his State of the Union address in January, President Bush reaffirmed his commitment to clean energy and a clean environment. He announced the Advanced Energy Initiative, to accelerate breakthroughs in how we power our homes and businesses and how we power our automobiles. As the President noted, the United States has spent nearly $10-billion since 2001 to develop cleaner, cheaper and more reliable alternative energy sources.
The sooner these breakthroughs are achieved, the better — for the people of North America and for the rest of the world, as well.