It seems that just about everyone is talking about energy these days, even celebrities. Some make more sense than others. I happen to believe that Paris Hilton got it pretty close to right when she said we are going to need both petroleum and new alternative fuel resources.
Americans are getting a first-hand glimpse of one of those promising alternatives – hydrogen – as the Hydrogen Road Tour 2008 makes its way across the country. Five years ago, President Bush issued a challenge to develop new hydrogen technologies as part of a balanced energy plan to help reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of oil. Now these new hydrogen technologies have exited the lab.
Today, nine different automakers are showcasing hydrogen-powered vehicles in a two-week tour that began Monday in Portland, Maine, and will make 31 stops before finishing in Los Angeles.
I caught up with the tour in New York this morning, where nine vehicles were on display in Central Park. From there, we crossed the river into New Jersey. At Liberty Science Center, members of the public had the opportunity to take a ride in these cutting-edge vehicles, see a refueling demonstration with a mobile station, and even take a ride on a fuel-cell bus.
I was impressed with each of the vehicles, and struck by how far America’s innovators have come toward unlocking hydrogen’s potential as an alternative for powering the cars we drive.
Hydrogen is not only plentiful, it’s so clean the primary tailpipe waste from many hydrogen-powered vehicles is water and heat. If developed to their full potential, near zero emission vehicles like those powered by hydrogen can be key contributors to improving America’s air quality and reducing greenhouse gases.
Hydrogen can be produced from abundant domestic resources, including natural gas, nuclear energy, coal, water, and biomass. But when renewable sources, such as solar and wind energy are used, the pollutants from the production process are zero as well.
Every week, more Americans turn to new automotive technologies like gas-electric hybrids and flex-fuel vehicles to cut the cost of their morning commute. During the first quarter of this year, motorists consumed nearly 400 million fewer gallons of gasoline, or about 1.3 percent less, than during the same period in 2007. One day, hydrogen vehicles too will be available in neighborhood showrooms as a clear alternative to conventional gasoline vehicles, and refueling stations will dot our communities.
The bottom line is this: America must move ahead in the effort to cut our dependence on foreign oil, improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A balanced portfolio of energy options is crucial to our nation’s long-term energy strategy. And the Hydrogen Road Tour is demonstrating the compelling reasons that make hydrogen one of America’s important energy choices.
-Deputy Secretary Barrett