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Wider use of methane emissions as fuel eyed

WASHINGTON -- The United States will work with at least seven other countries to harvest methane emissions as fuel and reduce pollution that contributes to global warming, the Bush administration announced yesterday.

The plan calls for transferring US technology to other industrialized and developing nations to help them create markets for methane, a heat-trapping gas that largely goes to waste.

As much as $53 million will be spent as seed money to gain private US companies' investment of potentially billions of dollars in other countries, officials said.

The plan was announced in Washington by the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Department, as well as Bush's senior environmental adviser and a State Department undersecretary.

The officials described the plan as a transfer of commonly used technology in the United States among an initial group of seven other countries, harvesting emissions of methane primarily from landfills, coal mines, and oil and gas systems.

President Bush said in a statement from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, that the nations would receive help from the government and companies ''to share and expand the use of technologies to capture methane emissions that are now wasted in the course of industrial processes and used them as a new energy source."

Methane is already captured from coal mines and landfills in the United States and used to generate electricity, officials said. Because of this, methane emissions in the United States were 5 percent lower in 2001 than in 1990.

The administration has opposed restricting emissions of carbon dioxide, the industrial gas most cited by scientists for warming the atmosphere like a greenhouse.

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