Bush Administration Urged to “Get Serious” About Fuel Cell R&D
— The White House needs to be more aggressive in its push of alternative fuel cell research and development, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), told Bush Administration officials at a May 8 hearing.Lautenberg, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said although the administration is putting forth a well-meaning effort, it’s not enough to encourage car makers to step up R&D. “We need to show them we’re serious,” the senator asserted. He suggested much more funding should be directed into alternative fuel R&D. “I think we need to declare an emergency alarm and get on with the investment,” Lautenberg said. He recently blasted the President’s energy bill saying it hasn’t done enough to protect the environment, but only lines the pockets of big businesses.John Marburger, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said the initiatives currently in place will set the country on a path for fuel cell use by 2015. However, he said great strides are still needed in R&D to make the mode of transportation affordable and attractive to consumers. “The hydrogen vision is ambitious,” Marburger said. “Together with related activities across the federal government, we can make substantial progress towards the vial, national goals of energy security and environmental stewardship.”Assistant Secretary of Energy David Garman agreed, but said common use of these vehicles is a decade away. Garman said the issues facing fuel cell researchers and developers are finding adequate storage facilities both on board the vehicle and refueling stations, lowering the cost to produce hydrogen and developing a low-cost and durable fuel cell to ensure safety and reliability.