Tags: Feds | Push | Fuel | Cells

Feds Push Fuel Cells

Wednesday, 09 January 2002 12:00 AM

They foresee a future in which transportation is no longer dependent on petroleum, where cars and trucks run nearly emission-free on electricity generated by hydrogen fuel cells.

The Bush administration signed on to the 21st century program, dubbed "Freedom CAR," after last year abandoning the Clinton administration's $1.5 billion Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicle. PNGV, touted by then-Vice President Al Gore, set an ambitious - and failed - goal of producing an affordable hybrid diesel vehicle capable of getting 80 mpg in 1993.

Automakers developed vehicles capable of getting 70 mpg using high-tech lightweight materials but never came close to figuring out how to make the cars affordable.

General Motors, Chrysler and Ford have spent more than $1 billion developing fuel cell technology over the years. Executives of the Big Three say taxpayer help is necessary to create an infrastructure to make fueling with hydrogen as easy as driving to the neighborhood gas station.

Anti-Bush self-described environmentalists say that commercial production of fuel cell cars is still 10 to 20 years away and that Bush is giving the auto industry a way to avoid tighter federal mileage requirements.

"Raising fuel economy standards is the first step," Kara Saul Rinaldi of Alliance To Save Energy told the New York Times.

"In keeping with the president's National Energy Plan, I am pleased to announce a new public-private partnership between my department and the nation's automobile manufacturers to promote the development of hydrogen as a primary fuel for cars and trucks, as part of our effort to reduce American dependence on foreign oil," Abraham said at North American International Auto Show in Cobo Center.

Transportation consumes 67 percent of the petroleum used in the United States, which imports about 10 billion gallons of foreign oil a day. But affordable hydrogen-fueled vehicles could make the debate in Congress over raising Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency standards moot. "The long-term results of this cooperative effort will be cars and trucks that are more efficient, cheaper to operate, pollution-free and competitive in the showroom," Abraham said. "This plan is rooted in President Bush's call, issued last May in our National Energy Plan, to reduce American reliance on foreign oil though a balance of new domestic energy production and new technology to promote greater energy efficiency."

The "CAR" in "Freedom CAR" stands for Cooperative Automobile Research, a comprehensive plan to develop domestic renewal resources like hydrogen fuel cells to reduce earth-warming "greenhouse" gas emissions. The only byproducts from a fuel cell are heat and water vapor.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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They foresee a future in which transportation is no longer dependent on petroleum, where cars and trucks run nearly emission-free on electricity generated by hydrogen fuel cells. The Bush administration signed on to the 21st century program, dubbed Freedom CAR, after...
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2002-00-09
Wednesday, 09 January 2002 12:00 AM
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