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Anger over Bush energy plan

Bush wants to build more power stations
Bush wants to build more power stations  

LONDON, England -- Proposals aimed at addressing the U.S. energy crisis have been condemned by environmental groups and some European ministers.

President George W. Bush announced on Thursday plans to tackle his country's "most serious energy shortage" since the 1970s.

Bush wants more reliance on oil, coal and nuclear power, and $10 billion in tax credits for conservation measures.

Charles Secrett, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth in Britain, said the plan would mean "a new generation of nuclear power stations (and) destruction of the Alaskan wilderness."

He said it would also mean "other environmentally disastrous proposals will distance the United States even further from the main strain of environmental concern across the rest of the planet."

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Bush's proposals have been drawn up by a task force led by Vice President Dick Cheney.

They were presented amid protests outside during a speech by the president to local business leaders in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The state of California has been hit by a series of rolling power blackouts and increasing shortages, and Bush warned: "If we fail to act, we could face a darker future, a future that is unfortunately being previewed in rising prices at the gas pump and rolling blackouts in California."

But Jan Pronk, head of the U.N. forum on climate change, dubbed Bush's plan a "disastrous development" for international efforts to slow output of greenhouse gases.

Pronk, also the Dutch environment minister, told Dutch television the proposal would "undoubtedly" lead to increased output of carbon dioxide.

"In terms of the possibility of forming an integrated policy (to cut emissions), this is a disastrous development," he said.

The environmental pressure group Greenpeace said increasing the use of fossil fuels went against efforts to reduce the output of greenhouse gases.

A U.N. scientific body has said greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide produced by the burning of fossil fuels, contribute to warming of the Earth's surface.

It is feared that will lead to higher ocean levels, changes in weather patterns including more severe storms.

"This plan is going to substantially increase U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at a time when most of the industrialised countries are trying to reduce them," Greenpeace climate policy director Bill Hare told Reuters.

Some European allies of the U.S. were angry that Bush has rejected the Kyoto protocol on global warming, which commits developed countries to a five percent cut of greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2008-2012.

The president's top economic adviser Glenn Hubbard faced criticism over the move at a meeting of industrialised nations in Paris on Thursday.

French Finance Minister Laurent Fabius said the U.S. rejection of Kyoto in March could damage Kyoto's success.

"The U.S. withdrawal from the Kyoto protocol endangers the entire process," Fabius said.

Bush: U.S. energy crisis must be addressed
Bush: U.S. energy crisis must be addressed  

Anger in Europe was mirrored by environmentalists in the Pacific, where low-lying islands are among the most vulnerable to climate change.

"We are all environmental criminals. But there must be a new category for the United States. I would like to see an international justice system that would recognise this crime," said Patrina Dumaru, climate officer for the Fiji-based Pacific Concerns Resources Centre.

"If the worst comes to the worst, if it comes to the crunch in climate change, some communities and cultures here will cease to exist. It's totally unjust," said Dumaru.

Australian Greens leader Senator Bob Brown said: "He's (Bush) come up with a combination of Exxon Valdez and Chernobyl." Brown was referring to the 1989 tanker oil spill off Alaska and the Ukraine nuclear plant disaster 15 years ago.

But Japanese government and industry officials welcomed Bush's proposals.

"We are greatly encouraged by the fact that a nation that plays a key role in the direction world energy policy takes has shifted to backing nuclear power," said a spokesman for Japan's government-backed Federation of Electric Power Companies.

Japan operates 51 commercial nuclear reactors, which supply about a third of the nation's electric power.

• U.S. Department of Energy
• Greenpeace
• Friends of the Earth
• United Nations

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