Just when I talked about how things weren’t as bad as they seemed a few days ago in regard to the federal hydrogen car budget, things have indeed gotten worse. On April 27, I talked about how the Department of Energy’s published budget in 2009, went down to $177.7 million from $211.9 million in 2008.
But, now in the past week, those numbers have changed on the DOE website. According to the current DOE site the numbers for 2009 are now up to $200,600 million for 2009. Now, the bad news.
According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), President Obama has asked the DOE to cut the hydrogen car budget for 2010 by 60-percent or roughly $100 million. According to the WSJ, the President sees hybrids, plug-ins and full electric cars as a better near term solutions than hydrogen cars.
The New York Times (NYT) seconds this sentiment saying that Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the government “preferred to focus on projects that would bear fruit more quickly.” The Wall Street Journal however blames the highball figure given by the National Research Council who said it would take $200 billion to build an adequate hydrogen refueling infrastructure (this figure is disputed in many of my past posts).
The WSJ also says, “A spokesman for the National Hydrogen Association in Washington said his group was still being briefed on the Obama proposal and had no immediate comment.”
Well, this is no longer the case as the National Hydrogen Association (NHA) has spoken out strongly against the hydrogen car budget cuts. In fact, the NHA and U. S. Fuel Cell Council offered a joint statement saying, “The cuts proposed in the DOE hydrogen and fuel cell program threaten to disrupt commercialization of a family of technologies that are showing exceptional promise and beginning to gain market traction.
“Fuel cell vehicles are not a science experiment. These are real vehicles with real marketability and real benefits. Hundreds of fuel cell vehicles have collectively logged millions of miles.
“Both the National Academy of Sciences and NHA’s recent Energy Evolution report conclude that a portfolio of vehicle technologies is needed to achieve the nation’s energy and environmental security goals and that hydrogen is essential to success. Hydrogen also advances the Obama Administration’s goals of greener power generation and a smarter power grid.”
Well, so much for reaching across the aisle when it comes to hydrogen car technology. With this kind of deep budget cut looming for hydrogen cars, the delayers and deniers (and we’re not talking about climate change – or are we?) have taken over in the new administration. Let’s hope a more rational approach takes over in the months to come in regard to clean car technology and energy independence for this country. And let’s also hope this is not simply a political move to undo more of the Bush policies of the past.