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World Biofuels Symposium
November 13-15, 2005
Beijing, China

2nd Annual Canadian Renewable Fuels Summit
December 13-15, 2005
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Hosted by:
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National Biodiesel Conference & Expo 2006
February 5-8, 200
San Diego, California
National Biodiesel Board

11th Annual National Ethanol Conference: "Policy & Marketing"
February 20-22, 200
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
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Renewable Fuels Association

22nd Annual International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo
June 20-23, 200
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

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Posted on  

February 7, 2003

Bush gazes into a hydrogen-powered future

February 6, 2003

President Bush on Thursday touted his plan for a future society in which hydrogen fuel cells power everything from cars to computers, emitting no pollution or greenhouse gases and sharply reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

But environmentalists, who have long promoted a world based on a "hydrogen economy," said Bush is using the promise of hydrogen power to deflect attention from his opposition to energy-efficient measures that would reduce oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions now.

After taking office, Bush jettisoned the Clinton administration's high-technology vehicle program, introducing a new program focused exclusively on hydrogen-powered cars. In his State of the Union speech last week, Bush announced he was expanding the program to develop a national network of hydrogen fueling stations.

All the major automakers have hydrogen fuel cell research programs. Honda and Toyota put a small number of hydrogen-powered cars on the road in December.

However, the cost of producing hydrogen-powered cars remains high and it is unclear how automakers will get around the "chicken and egg" problem of getting cars on the road and a network of fueling stations in place at the same time.

Hydrogen can be extracted from water, biomass, ethanol, natural gas, coal and nuclear power, among other sources. Hydrogen-powered cars emit nothing but water vapor.

"How we invest taxpayers' money today can help change the world," Bush told a gathering of science students and government officials at the National Building Museum in Washington. "Hydrogen fuel cells represent one of the most encouraging innovative technologies of our era."

The United States imports 55 percent of the oil it consumes. That is expected to grow to 68 percent by 2025. Two-thirds of the 20 million barrels of oil Americans use each day is used for transportation, mostly in cars and trucks. Hydrogen fuel cell cars may reduce U.S. demand for oil by over 11 million barrels per day by 2040, Bush said.

"That would be a fantastic legacy to leave for future generations of Americans," said Bush, who was given a tour before his speech of an exhibit of various applications for hydrogen fuel cell technology, including hydrogen-powered sedans, minivans and sport utility vehicles.

Democrats and environmentalists said the president's plan wouldn't help achieve energy independence because it doesn't require automakers to put fuel cell cars on the market. The plan also ignores currently available technologies that could raise the fuel economy for today's cars, critics said.

"Next-generation automobiles offer real promise down the road, but we can only strengthen our energy independence if we complete the picture with a creative, concrete and comprehensive strategy that starts us moving in the right direction today," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn. "Lacking that, proposals like the president's are nothing more than an exhaust pipe dream."

Daniel Becker, director of the Sierra Club's global warming and energy program, said the plan "relies too heavily on sources like coal, nuclear power and oil to produce hydrogen, which are the dirtiest possible ways to do the job. Since fuel cell technology won't be usable for at least 15 years, we have the time to do this right and use safe, clean energy solutions to produce hydrogen."

After Bush's speech, Senate Energy Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M., announced he would hold hearings next month on the presidents' hydrogen car plan and on ways to expand the use of energy-efficient hybrid cars that use gasoline or diesel fuel to supplement an electric motor.

"I want to push the frontiers of American ingenuity in all directions," Domenici said. "We should not limit ourselves to hydrogen."



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