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US environment official answers questions
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By Sapna Maheshwari

Although it might have taken the United States longer than other countries to address energy efficiency, it is taking a "fairly aggressive stand" in current international discussions, Claudia McMurray, the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Oceans, Environment and Science said recently in China.

McMurray answered questions from Internet users about the role of the United States in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the environment during an hour-long interview with China.org.cn on July 3.

She addressed the Sichuan earthquake and said the United States is working closely with the Chinese government to study the geology of the area in addition to providing earthquake relief.

"We've offered some of our satellite observation, technology, and other data to look at the geology of the area, to look at the water, to look at the fault lines in the future," she said. "We're trying to help in any way we can to learn from whatever man-made causes may have made this worse."

She also addressed concerns about the use of biomass energy to create ethanol as a contributor to the global increase in food prices.

"(As) another alternative for oil, ethanol is obviously a very important part of our program in the United States," she said. "There has been this idea out in the marketplace that somehow between the Brazilian ethanol that somehow comes from sugarcane and that which we grow from corn, somehow that is causing the food crisis."

"We just don't believe this is the case."

She said droughts are a big cause of worldwide food shortages as well as the use of raw materials to feed livestock.

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