WASHINGTON, April 5 (UPI) -- China's lead in clean energies may be attractive to U.S. lawmakers but both American and Chinese reliance on coal looks unlikely to change any time soon.
In a U.S. House of Representatives committee hearing this week, energy experts testified on the role of alternative and traditional sources compared to China's energy portfolio. In addition to developing alternative energy sources such as solar, wind and hydropower, many experts and representatives seemed to hold similar views on the necessity of developing technologies for cleaner coal and putting them into practice.
"It looks like we are adopting a policy to penalize fossil fuel," said U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., committee chairman, referring to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency clean air regulations. Whitfield said he was worried that such regulations would make the U.S. less competitive in the global energy marketplace.
But Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., asked those testifying if the EPA was penalizing fossil fuels or "protecting the public interest" from the pollution caused by such energy sources.
Mary Hutzler, a fellow with research and analysis group the Institute for Energy Research, which promotes free-market solutions for energy issues, said that people want to point to China as leading the race in clean energies.
She added, however, that "they're leading the race in all fuels." Like the United States, energy security had led China to developing numerous energy avenues, Hutzler said.
Regulatory differences between the countries were included in the discussion.
Saying he was impressed by China's hydropower electricity generation on the Yangtze River, Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, bemoaned restrictive U.S. regulations, saying "we can't do that in the United States because of environmental policies."
Though China's portfolio of clean energies may have been attractive to some in the committee, most of the Americans agreed they would remain supplemental to coal energy for some time.
Waxman said, "We're going to continue to use coal for the foreseeable future."