Saturday, February 01, 2003

Forget Your Problems, We're Preparing for a War / by James Ridgeway
Village Voice / Wednesday 29 January 2003 10:15 AM

Tax cut, elderly drug assistance high on the list / By Susan Milligan, Globe Staff, 1/29/2003 - Democrats were encouraged, however, by Bush's proposal to spend $1.2 billion for research on hydrogen fuel cells, which can power cars. The energy source is cleaner than fossil fuels and would help the nation ease its reliance on oil from the Middle East, said Senator Byron Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota.

Bush's policy has been ''yesterday is forever; dig and drill,'' Dorgan said. ''The question is, is this real policy with real grip to it, that he's going to fund?''

Mother Jones Article - January 30, 2003 - Speech One: The Union Bush Style, Bush Substance?

Another surprising announcement was a plan to sponsor research into alternatively fueled automobiles -- ostensibly out of a desire for increased energy efficiency, environmental protection, and decreased reliance on foreign oil. James Ridgeway of Village Voice, however, was not biting. He cites some of the many environmental blows recently initiated by this administration: "more domestic drilling, cutting back on industrial pollution control, and a seemingly slick program to support the new hydrogen car." Ridgeway quotes Sierra Club energy maven Daniel Becker: the hydrogen-powered vehicle program

"funnels millions to Detroit without requiring that they produce a single fuel-cell vehicle for the public to purchase. The auto industry is using the promise of future fuel cells as a shield against using existing technology to dramatically cut our oil dependence, and pollution, today. This technology is sitting on the shelf while Detroit dithers."

Energy Forever - By Amory B. Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins - Issue Date: 2.11.02

Fast-Forward to Hydrogen

The next step will integrate efficiency with a shift from hydrocarbons to plain hydrogen. We've already made progress in reducing the carbon burning that harms the climate; today, two of every three fossil-fuel atoms we burn are hydrogen, the other one carbon. The emerging hydrogen economy eliminates both the burning and the rest of the carbon by using pure hydrogen in fuel cells. Remember the high-school chemistry experiment in which an electric current splits water into hydrogen and oxygen? A fuel cell reverses this process, chemically recombining these gases to produce electricity, pure hot water, and nothing else. Fuel cells are the most efficient, clean, and reliable known source of electricity.

Initially, the hydrogen that they need will be made mainly from natural gas, but that's no obstacle. An already mature hydrogen industry has developed ways to do this economically at all scales, though smaller is often cheaper as well as less vulnerable. Hydrogen is cost-competitive today in many uses. Moreover, the buoyant, clear-flame gas is safer to use and store than gasoline, and new research suggests that its refueling infrastructure would be cheaper.

Nor is there need to worry about the natural gas running out: Even as the hydrogen economy grows, it will probably use less natural gas than we do now. In the long run, hydrogen will most likely be made from water, using renewable electricity or possibly just sunlight. Or it may be extracted from oil and perhaps even coal, without releasing the carbon into the air. All these options are evolving rapidly and will compete vigorously.

This isn't science fiction; speeded by micropower's special economic benefits, it's already starting to happen. Hundreds of U.S. buildings, from New York's Central Park police station to an Omaha credit-card data center, are powered by fuel cells. Fuel-cell buses are on the market. Experimental fuel-cell-powered cars are on the road, and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced on January 9 a federal-Big Three collaboration to speed them to market. The heads of seven major oil and car companies have announced the start of both the Oil Endgame and the Hydrogen Era--a more profitable venture in which they're strongly investing. In Royal Dutch/Shell's latest planning scenarios, the business-as-usual case has the world getting one-third of its energy and all its increased energy from renewable sources by 2050; the other, more radical scenario envisages an accelerated shift to hydrogen, with oil use stagnant until 2020 and falling sharply thereafter. Ex-Saudi Oil Minister Sheikh Yamani is the latest of several energy experts to say that "the Stone Age did not end because the world ran out of stones, and the Oil Age will not end because the world runs out of oil."

Hydrogen Car Hype - Wall St Journal | 1-30-03
Posted on 01/30/2003 5:23 AM PST by SJackson

President Bush revved up his hydrogen roadster on Tuesday, calling for $1.2 billion in research funding for futuristic fuel cells that might one day power cars. In the process, he left taxpayers, and the cause of honest energy policy, in the dust.


What Mr. Bush should be doing is telling it to Americans straight: We have a reliance on fossil fuels, which is why we need to do smart things like drill in the Arctic. But we've also, thanks to private industry, made huge advances in terms of pollution control and efficiency. Industry shows every sign of continuing this innovation -- whether through greater efficiencies or new technology like hydrogen fuel cells. And it is doing just fine on its own.


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