Yesterday, President Bush nominated motorcycle-riding Mary Peters to be Secretary of the U. S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Peters, the former head of Arizona’s Department of Transportation will succeed Norman Mineta, if approved by Congress. Mineta stepped down in July after holding the Transportation Secretary position for 5 1/2 years.
At the top of Peters’ new agenda will be highway safety, including motorcycle safety, which has been given a hit over the past few years. Peters will also be involved in projects and processes that cut down on transportation gridlock as well as working with congress to set new auto fuel economy standards.
Peters has been critical of environmentalists in the past for slowing highway projects. While Peters has been critical, she has also spoken out in favor of hydrogen vehicles. On January 30, 2003, Peters spoke to International Automotive Roundtable in San Francisco, California about President Bush’s $1.2 billion Freedom Fuel Initiative saying, “The initiative that probably caught your attention is the ‘Freedom Fuel’ proposal. President Bush wants $1.2 billion in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles. It would make our air significantly cleaner and our country much less dependent on foreign sources of energy.”
For the hydrogen highway system to take root and grow in the U. S. it will take much involvement from Peters (or whomever happens to be Transportation Secretary) to help regulate, mandate and give incentives to automakers and fuel suppliers, distributors, wholesalers and others. At this point, government must take a hands-on approach in order for the hydrogen highway to become a reality. With a new Transportation Secretary onboard who has a record of conflict with environmentalists, its important that we keep a watchful eye, from this point forward on Peters progress on promoting hydrogen as the fuel of the future.