Buried in news about President Obama's budget was the news that George W. Bush's $1.2 billion plan for hydrogen fuel cells was killed Obama, saving taxpayers $100 million a year. Why?The money was stripped because the president and Steven Chu, his energy secretary, said hydrogen fueled cars are still decades away and that they'd rather concentrate on more immediate energy-saving solutions.
What are the obstacles for hydrogen cars? First and foremost, the cost. Untold billions would be needed to build an infrastructure of hydrogen pipelines and fueling stations. Other problems include hydrogen storage and the production of hydrogen.
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Obama's fiscal 2010 budget proposal calls for $68.2 million to be spent on fuel-cell technologies, down from $169.0 million last year, Welch said. The savings comes from cancellation of funds for the vehicles' development.
The Energy Department will continue to pay for research into stationary fuel cells that could be used for non-automotive purposes, he said.
In his 2003 State of the Union address, Bush proposed spending $1.2 billion to develop hydrogen-powered automobiles.
"With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom, so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free," Bush said.
The Bush administration spent more than $500 million on research into producing and distributing hydrogen so it could be used in cars powered by fuel cells.
After Bush's speech, Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, said the plan was too small to make much of a difference.
"This was window-dressing pure and simple," Clapp said in 2003.
More on hydrogen cars:
Production of Honda FCX Clarity Hydrogen Car Begins
5 Ways to Power the Green Cars of the Future