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Remarks by Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman
Thank you, President Hardesty. I visited West Virginia last year when I was with the Treasury Department, and I am glad to be back today.
President Hardesty has had a pretty busy week hosting visitors from Washington. President Bush was here on Monday, and I imagine many of you were in the audience for that. So I thank you for showing up for another speech a few days later.
It is my pleasure to announce today that the Department of Energy is awarding almost $3 million in research funding, as part of our University Coal Research Program, to 19 universities in 15 states. Now in its 26th year, the University Coal Research Program brings science students and professors together to advance the development of clean and efficient technologies for the use of coal.
One of the reasons for my visit here, of course, is that West Virginia University is one of the grant recipients. WVU will be conducting research in computer-aided design of high-temperature materials. This is an important area of research… and a rather complicated one, too. The official project title talks about "ductility enhancement" and "nano-sized oxide dispersions." Now, these are fascinating subjects for me… I used to teach engineering. But I realize not everyone may share my enthusiasm, so I will leave it at that.
Another grant recipient is the University of Pittsburgh. I believe Michael Lovell, Associate Dean for Research at the University, is with us… welcome. Pittsburgh will be working on developing more accurate models regarding mercury emissions. Obviously, that is important to the future use of coal. And I also want to welcome Christina Gabriel, Vice Provost and Chief Technology Officer at Carnegie Mellon University, another grant recipient. CMU is developing computational chemistry to support extracting hydrogen from coal.
All three of these schools are part of the university consortium associated with our National Energy Technology Laboratory, and we are pleased to support their important research work.
The DOE’s University Coal Research Program is the department’s longest-running student-teacher research grant initiative. Taken together, the research projects being announced today will help the United States further develop the environmentally responsible use of our most abundant domestic energy source. This is a priority reflected in the energy bill we hope to get to the President’s desk next month.
As you probably know, both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed comprehensive energy legislation. There is still some work ahead as we move into the process for resolving some differences in the two bills. But it is important to note that both versions agree on increasing the use of coal, and both explicitly support DOE’s clean coal technology program.
We are encouraged by the action Congress is taking, not just for the sake of coal, but for our overall energy strategy.
The President laid out a wide-ranging, visionary energy policy in 2001. Many of its recommendations have been implemented already, but others remain that require legislative action.
President Bush has asked for a comprehensive energy bill to be on his desk by the end of July.
It has been four years since the President asked Congress to send him an energy bill. Now, with passage in both houses, we are optimistic that he will have a bill to sign this summer.
Comprehensive energy legislation will help to bolster our energy security, which is so essential to our economic security. And a central feature of a strong, diverse energy portfolio is the continued use of coal, our nation’s most abundant energy resource.
Coal has underpinned America’s growth almost from our country’s beginning. And I think it is safe to say that we owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who have labored in the coal fields and down in the mines. But of course, I hardly need to explain that to an audience like this… here in West Virginia. You know better than most how much the coal industry has contributed to this state, this region, and indeed the country.
But the continued prominence of coal won’t happen just because I say so. It will happen because we are investing in the 21st century technologies that will allow us to address the challenges I mentioned a moment ago.
We must address the pollution that using coal entails.
Technology will help do that.
We are confident that by harnessing the brain power found in our national labs, in private industry, and in academia, we can devise ways that will allow us to burn coal without pollution.
Now, I recognize the great progress that has already been made on this front.
Since the acid rain debates of the 70’s and 80’s, industry has taken huge steps to cut down on emissions - we have achieved reductions of over 65 percent in the case of nitrogen oxides … 80 percent for sulfur dioxide … and 90 percent for particulate matter.
Those are impressive figures. But there is more work to do.
Shortly after I was sworn in as Secretary, President Bush and I traveled to Ohio, where the President talked about coal as "our most abundant, reliable, and affordable energy resource."
The President also said - quote - "Most people have said burning coal without pollution was as likely as the Red Sox winning the World Series."
The line got quite a laugh, even from this long-suffering Red Sox fan. But it also contained a huge element of truth.
American ingenuity allowed man to fly above the beaches at Kitty Hawk … built the atomic bomb to win the Second World War … put a man on the moon … and invent the computer, which sparked the information revolution.
I have no doubt that American ingenuity can help us make revolutionary advances with coal technologies that will permit cleaner and more efficient use of this abundant resource for centuries to come ... even if the Red Sox never win another championship.
In addition to looking for ways to make our power plants cleaner and more efficient in the years to come, we are also investigating ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal combustion.
We all know this is a serious matter. Just this morning, I believe the G-8 Summit in Scotland issued a statement on the need for the leading industrialized nations to address the challenge of climate change.
Our approach has been to pursue an ambitious program featuring cleaner, more efficient energy technologies. All told, our Administration is spending upwards of $5 billion per year on a comprehensive climate change strategy.
One aspect of this strategy is to move forward with energy technologies that reduce future greenhouse gas emissions without having to take steps that would harm our economy.
And it is increasingly clear that this approach makes sense.
Just last week, the Energy Information Administration reported that for the second consecutive year, the United States has seen a reduction in the greenhouse gas intensity of the U.S. economy. This reduction demonstrates that we are on course to meet, and may exceed, the ambitious goal President Bush set forth in 2002 to reduce greenhouse gas intensity by 18 percent by 2012.
EIA’s data shows that in 2004, greenhouse gas intensity was reduced by 2.6 percent. This is on top of a reduction of 2.1 percent in 2003. And--I would add--this was accomplished during a period of robust economic growth. All of which means that President Bush’s strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while encouraging strong economic growth and protecting American jobs, is working.
So we will continue to address the challenge of climate change on a variety of fronts--including hydrogen fuel cells, nuclear energy, and clean diesel technologies.
And of course we will keep making progress on ways to continue using fossil fuels like coal while slashing or even eliminating GHG emissions.
Working closely with industry and with top research universities, we are investigating both how to capture CO2, and how to keep it out of the atmosphere.
One of the most exciting of these research projects is FutureGen.
FutureGen is a $1 billion public-private initiative to design, build, and operate the first coal-fired, emissions-free power plant.
When operational, FutureGen will be the world's cleanest, full-scale fossil fuel power plant.
To help develop the technologies that will make FutureGen a reality, I recently announced funding for seven regional projects selected to verify a variety of carbon sequestration technologies--which will be critical to the continued use of coal. WVU, I think you will be pleased to know, is a key player in the Midwestern regional project.
So we are working in a number of areas, and through a host of ambitious programs, to make the best possible use of coal, and find ways to utilize it in an environmentally responsible fashion.
Because we need to remember that we are not just the stewards of our nation’s energy future, we are stewards of our environmental future as well.
Given the promise of technology and scientific advancement, I am convinced those responsibilities are not mutually exclusive.
Ladies and gentlemen, we will continue investing in coal’s future, because our ability to keep the lights on and our economy bright depends on coal.
A secure energy tomorrow depends on taking action today to develop the most cutting-edge technologies for producing clean, efficient and reliable energy from coal. That is why the comprehensive energy legislation I mentioned earlier is so vital. By giving the President a bill to sign this summer, Congress can help us get started now on perfecting the coal technologies of the future.
The development of these innovative new technologies will help guarantee that coal continues to make a vital contribution to our nation … as well as to economic development around the globe … at the same time we are working to safeguard the environment for future generations.
Location: Morgantown, WV