A month ago it looked like hydrogen cars had their lights punched out by the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the current Obama Administration in the 2010 budget. With some help from the National Hydrogen Association (NHA), the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and other advocates the zeroing out of the hydrogen budget has been mostly restored.
U. S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) who oversees the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, decided that hydrogen cars needed a second look if this country is to reduce emissions and achieve energy independence.
According to the NHA, “The Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee (Senator Dorgan’s Subcommittee) just finished marking up DOE’s FY10 budget. The Chairman’s mark that emerged from the Subcommittee provides a total of $190 million for hydrogen and fuel cells at DOE, largely restoring funding to FY2009 levels [the $68M that was in DOE’s FY10 request for fuel cells would be included in that $190M] … For a comparison, the Senate Subcommittee’s $190 million compares to the current House total of $108 million for hydrogen and fuel cells (the $40M for ‘hydrogen vehicle systems’ in addition to the $68M that was in the DOE FY10 request for fuel cells).”
According to Senator Dorgan in the Senate Press Release, “The Energy and Water Appropriations bill makes investments in our nation’s efforts to develop safe, homegrown energy sources that will reduce our reliance on foreign oil. To enhance our nation’s energy security, we’ve made short-term, mid-range, and long-term investments in building efficiency, vehicle technologies, wind, and solar energy programs. And, because ongoing research and development is necessary to develop game-changing technologies, this bill also restores funding for Hydrogen energy research.”
Now, why the change in heart? Most likely its because many in Washington now realize that we will need more than just battery electric cars and wind turbines to cure our country’s energy woes. We need to attack the problem of greenhouse gases, lowering carbon emissions and energy independence on multiple levels including hydrogen cars and other hydrogen applications such as stationary fuel cells.
The Senate subcommittee’s decision was the right one. Now, let’s just wait to see if right prevails over the special political interests of the critics.