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very interesting article in Mother Jones on Bush’s “fuel cell strategy”. Who is going to benefit from the “Freedom car initiative” — again his friends in the oil and natural gas business? | News President Bush promises that fuel-cell cars will be free of pollution. But if he has his way, the cars of tomorrow will run on hydrogen made from fossil fuels.

But instead of investing in developing those sources, the budget that Bush submitted to Congress pays scant attention to renewable methods of producing hydrogen. More than half of all hydrogen funding is earmarked for automakers and the energy industry. Under the president’s plan, more than $22 million of hydrogen research for 2004 will be devoted to coal, nuclear power, and natural gas, compared with $17 million for renewable sources. Overall funding for renewable research and energy conservation, meanwhile, will be slashed by more than $86 million. “Cutting R&D for renewable sources and replacing them with fossil and nuclear doesn’t make for a sustainable approach,” says Jason Mark, director of the clean vehicles program for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The oil and chemical industries already produce 9 million tons of hydrogen each year, most of it from natural gas, and transport it through hundreds of miles of pipelines to fuel the space shuttle and to remove sulfur from petroleum refineries. The administration’s plan lays the groundwork to expand that infrastructure — guaranteeing that oil and gas companies will profit from any transition to hydrogen. Lauren Segal, general manager of hydrogen development for BP, puts it succinctly: “We view hydrogen as a way to really grow our natural-gas business.”


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