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US energy secretary: WV lab has critical role

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MORGANTOWN, WV (AP) — Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz says the National Energy Technology Laboratory has an important role to play in developing a cleaner, more prosperous American future.

He also said in prepared remarks that coal and other fossil fuels will remain part of the energy portfolio for decades, so scientists must find ways to make them burn cleaner.

Moniz was in Morgantown on Monday to tour the lab and speak to its 258 federal employees.

The lab also employs some 437 contractors and has other research sites in Pittsburgh and Albany, Ore. In all, it employs 1,426 workers, about 854 of whom are contractors.

Last month, President Barack Obama laid out a general plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase both the production of clean energy and energy efficiency.

The challenges are serious, Moniz said, and the world is already seeing the effects in more severe floods, heat waves, droughts and other events that drive up food and energy prices.

"And rising temperatures and more intense storms pose a serious threat to our infrastructure throughout the country," he said. "But the United States has faced challenges like this before, and we have always found a way to innovate our way to a cleaner and more prosperous future."

The U.S. has doubled production of wind and solar power in the past four years, yet coal and other fossil fuels account for 80 percent of all energy production and 70 percent of electricity production.

Those fuels "will be a major part of our energy future for decades," Moniz said. "That's why any serious effort to protect our kids from the worst effects of climate change must also include developing, demonstrating and deploying the technologies to use our abundant fossil fuel resources as cleanly as possible."

 

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press