In May 2009, the Obama administration ordered the Department of Energy to slash the hydrogen car research budget by 60-percent. Cooler heads in Congress prevailed and were able to restore much of the budget. A lot of the credit at that time went to U. S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) who oversees the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee.
Right now, another Democrat, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer from New York is fighting another Obama administration proposed cut of $37 million in hydrogen research funds.
According to Shumer’s website, “Schumer said that the combination of the Honeoye Fuel Center, RIT, University of Rochester, and Delphi’s local plant make the region the leading fuel cell location in North America. He also said that fully funding the fuel cell program would help secure the future of fuel cells in this country and ultimately provide the region with a huge economic boost.”
At a time when BP oil continues to spew into the Gulf region, (only 6-percent of the U. S. citizens give the oil giant a favorable rating), jobs are being lost as a result and unemployment in general across the U. S. is still the main political issue on the table, one would think President Obama would be promoting green energy including hydrogen as a way to get this nation off of fossil fuels and at the same time promoting green jobs.
By his past and current actions, it looks like President Obama has already picked winners and losers in the development of green technology which many will claim is outside the scope of the job of a President.
Supporting all green energy solutions, including hydrogen is imperative. At this critical time in green energy development this country should be taking an “all hands on deck” approach akin to President Kennedy’s moon mission towards developing green energy solutions.
According to RIT President, William Destler (whose campus hosts a fueling station), the lack of fueling stations is a problem that is easier to remedy than it seems. If GM installed fueling stations at each of its dealerships, says Destler we would have a nationwide network.
Earlier in this blog, others also have talked about all new car dealerships hosting one hydrogen fueling station as a way to put up a nationwide H2 network. This would benefit the dealerships not only in selling fuel, but also in getting potential customers into their lots to sell them auto maintenance service as well as new cars.
The more that auto dealerships can bring current customers onto their lots the higher retention rate of those customers for future car sales, and service work on current automobiles.
Of course, one downside of this scenario in general is that hydrogen fuel cell cars by design will need less service than gasoline powered vehicles. And, if dealerships make 30-percent of their profits from automobile service (a figure I’m seen quoted from several different sources), then there may be some resistance in rolling out hydrogen cars in the first place.
And the downside to this last scenario is that if the competition rolls out hydrogen cars and they are wildly popular then the resistant car company coming late to the game will suffer in sales (the major car companies need to take a note from the introduction of the hybrid vehicle).
So, to get back to the main point, once again the President’s office is missing an opportunity to say no to oil, say yes to all types of green energy, and promote jobs in the green energy sector. As I’ve stated earlier, hydrogen fuel cell forklifts are already being sold commercially. Stationary hydrogen fuel cells are also being sold commercially as well. Hydrogen fuel cell “batteries” to recharge small electronic devices are already being sold commercially.
When President Obama fired General Mcchrystal he stated, “But war is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general, or a president.” This same philosophy should also hold true for the war on fossil fuels. A green energy future is much bigger than even the President. Even if President Obama doesn’t want to get onboard with hydrogen he should at least get out of the way of progress (keep the status quo) and let the scientists, researchers, U. S. Congress, state governments and free market lead the way.
Being a hydrogen obstructionist goes against the philosophy of “Change we can believe in”.