Friday, January 11, 2008

CARB Races to Rescue Faltering Hydrogen Highway

In meetings reminiscent of Dick Cheney's energy confabs, California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols convened energy companies and auto makers to try to save California's buckling Hydrogen Highway. As reported in the San Jose Mercury News today, Friday, January 11,
"We are getting strong expressions of support from them to increase their level of commitments, including financially," said Mary Nichols, who chairs the Air Resources Board, talking about the energy companies. "We can't discuss the details of this at this point."
Even the hydrogen filling station at the Fuel Cell Partnership itself closed when the lease lapsed on December 31.

Now the state is promising to throw good money after bad. As the state declares a budget emergency,
The Air Resources Board said it will reissue bids for the projects in the next few weeks and will add money to help upgrade two existing stations. There is already $7.7 million set aside for the competitive projects from past budgets. An additional $6 million is being requested for future projects in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed budget, which he released Thursday. [emphasis added]
This "hydrogen hiccup" should be taken as an opportunity to smother a failed, diversionary research project. It is a shame that California agencies charged with cleaning the air, lowering carbon emissions, and reducing our petroleum dependence continue to hallucinate a hydrogen future and throw taxpayer money at oil companies and auto makers forestalling truly viable zero emission plug-in vehicles. Mary Nichols ought to return the ZEV program to its original mission - near-term commercialization of practical, economic zero emission vehicles. That means battery electric cars. The Board should take such action at its meeting in March when it considers revisions to the Zero Emission Vehicle Program.