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Update on the DOE Hydrogen Budget

Over the last few weeks, the House and Senate have been reviewing all parts of President Obama’s proposed 2010 federal budget, which slashed funding for hydrogen and fuel cells by $131.5 million, with fuel cell vehicle and hydrogen fuel programs cut to zero. Congress carefully considered the progress of hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles, and the viability of commercialization, and recommended to restore the Hydrogen Program’s budget.

On Friday, July 17, the House of Representatives voted 320-97 approved a budget that included $153 million for hydrogen and fuel cells in the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program, plus $45 million for hydrogen from coal. Earlier this month, the Senate Appropriations committee approved $190 million for hydrogen. Assuming that the full Senate agrees with the $190 million, the two budget figures will be reconciled in a conference committee in the next few months.

California Senator Diane Feinstein responded to people who wrote her about supporting hydrogen with a letter that contained the following:

“In the face of potentially catastrophic climate change and increasing dependence on fossil fuels, I agree that the carbon content of our fuel supply must be reduced and substituted with low carbon fuels, like hydrogen. Please know that I will keep your thoughts in mind as Congress proceeds with the fiscal year 2010 appropriations process.”

DOE’s Hydrogen Program includes research into producing and storing hydrogen, materials for fuel cells and validating technology on the road by deploying vehicles and stations. The program has very specific annual goals to measure progress and determine the best areas for investment. Since 2003, industry and labs have met or exceeded every goal and have remained on DOE’s projected commercialization timeline in 2015.

The California Fuel Cell Partnership and its members remain committed to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Industry investment will continue, as will investment by the State of California. Since the budget was announced in May, CaFCP has been working with the California Air Resources Board, the National Hydrogen Association and the US Fuel Cell Council to ensure that members of congress and the DOE have the complete information about progress towards commercialization. Actions include:

  • Visiting with congressional staffers and lobbying Congress
  • Preparing technical data to respond to DOE Secretary Chu
  • Governor Schwarzenegger and CARB Chairman Mary Nichols met with Secretary Chu
  • Meeting with numerous federal and state representatives during Hydrogen Road Tour
  • USFCC and NHA coordinated a letter-writing and advocacy campaign
  • USFCC and NHA issued a joint letter with other national organizations, including American Lung Association, Union of Concerned Scientists and AAMA, supporting restoration of funding for H2 and FCVs
  • USFCC and NHA coordinated a Congressional briefing

Ultimately, the decision to continue funding for the DOE’s Hydrogen Program rests with Congress and Senate. To learn how you can become involved, please visit http://www.h2andyou.org/representative.asp