Congress is teaching Energy Secretary Steven Chu a lesson in politics, as it gets ready to stuff $204 million for hydrogen fuel cell research down his throat, the Wall Street Journal reports.
When Chu took over, he slashed the budget for hydrogen, saying it would be 20-30 years before hydrogen cars were a reality. Instead, Chu wants to focus on electric cars and plug ins. Those are promising technologies ready today.
Well, the last administration had already set the wheels in motion for hydrogen research and development. As such, the major automakers like GM, Ford (F) and Honda (HMC) all started working on hydrogen cars. Slashing the funding hurts those companies.
It also hurts certain states, like New York, and North Dakota. Charles Schumer (D-NY) calls fuel cells “an economic engine” for New York. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), says the “Department made a significant mistake” cutting off funding. Dorgan, the Journal reports has “steered millions of federal dollars over the past five years to the National centre for Hydrogen Technology at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.”
Even though Steven Chu thinks hydrogen cells are a lost cause for now, the Senate will force the DOE to spend $204 million researching fuel cells.
It looks like it comes at the cost of something near to Chu’s heart.
The Secretary wants to create series of small labs across the country to study alternative energy. His model is based on AT&T Bell Labs, where he did the work that led to his Nobel Prize.
To build those labs, Chu wanted $280 million. Instead, he’s getting $35 million to build one lab, rather than eight like he hoped for.
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