Posted on June 9, 2003
"The process by which this committee worked on the hydrogen fuel cell proposal, which is Title VIII of the Energy Bill, was a good process. For those who would like to see how two parties in the evenly divided Senate can take an issue and come to a consensus and narrow the differences, it was a pretty good process." "It is exciting to all of us who care about this issue and about the goals, which are to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and to clean the air, which is what this does, to see President Bush in his State of the Union address make a bold proposal to direct the Secretary of Energy to explore the possibility of a hydrogen economy and to develop the next generation technology that would include hydrogen. "I had an opportunity within the last couple of weeks, to talk with the chief executive of Nissan, who set a remarkable record in 1999. Nissan had a $19 billion debt, today it has no debt. It paid it off. I asked him about the hydrogen car because some of my scientist friends had been throwing a little cold water on the idea saying some of us in the Senate were coming up with a pipe dream that might never work. Here's what the head of Nissan said and he said this publicly, Nissan is spending $800 million in the next seven years on research just on fuel cell hydrogen cars. He wants to be and publicly stated that Nissan intends not just to be a leader, but the leader, in that area. In other words they're putting money there, real dollars. And Toyota and Honda industry sources tell me are spending at least that much of their own money. And the General Motors president said to me he takes this seriously as well. So the President's focus on the hydrogen car has done one good thing. Its taken the work that's been done in this body for the last 10 or 12 years on hydrogen and put it into this bill in the form of $1.6 billion and taken the President's own proposal of research and that's another $1.3 billion but the real value is that the President's proposal and our agreement on this if we do agree, will put this up front, create a national commitment that we had when we went to the moon. That's right. It is that kind of national commitment." "In addition to the President's $1.3 billion proposal, we have about $1.6 billion more for other ideas that were brought in by people other than the President. There is a demonstration program for the government and for nonprofit agencies, a stationary fuel cell demonstration program for use in residential and commercial buildings, a hydrogen car and fuel cell demonstration program in at least three national parks, and I think that's a terrific idea. I'd like to see one of those in the Great Smoky Mountains, which is our most polluted national park today. Many people think of Yellow Stone as a famous park. It is famous, but only three million people visit there, while 10 million come to the Great Smokies. It's polluted, why? A big part is because of the cars that drive around it." "And then the idea provides for the establishment of a university education degree curriculum designed to help our workforce move into a hydrogen economy centered of excellence in our great research universities to help realize this vision that we all share. We in the United States have, really the world's only great research universities, they're our secret weapon. We need to fund them better, we need to fund the research and technology better, and that is one sure way to encourage us towards this goal." "This bill is a combination of ideas from both parties, from the President and from the Congress. For our new technology, which while bold is still unproven, we believe this is a generous amount of support in a bill that is balanced across a broad number of sources of new and improved energy."