By Guest Opinion Contributor Richard Hennek
What if the Obama Administration turned over the nation’s anti-obesity program to McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s? You would expect outrage to erupt across the country. Well, that’s exactly what’s happening with America’s clean energy research and development for vehicles.
This year, the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership transitioned to U.S. DRIVE, which stands for United States Driving Research and Innovation for Vehicle efficiency and Energy sustainability. This program is a partnership among the U.S. Department of Energy; USCAR, representing Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Company and General Motors; Tesla Motors; five energy companies – BP America, Chevron Corporation, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil Corporation and Shell Oil Products US; two utilities – Southern California Edison and Michigan-based DTE Energy; and the Electric Power Research Institute.
The stated goal of the partnership is to accelerate the development of technologies and the processes to produce a full range of electrified and other advanced light-duty vehicles. However, in this transition, the only fossil fuel and greenhouse gas-free solution with the power to transform how we fuel transportation – hydrogen – was quietly dropped from consideration and support.
This is hypocrisy standing in the way of progress. Allowing automakers and big oil companies to control this dialogue while ignoring those that produce hydrogen-powered technologies is wrong. This is an example of the federal government putting its trust in the status quo to change things. If change is the goal, this is doomed to failure.
Hydrogen fuel cells are the only energy source that is carbon free and helps make a meaningful attack on climate change. There seems to be a push for plug-in electric vehicles, which individually are clean; however, these vehicles receive their power from grid electricity that is usually generated by fossil fuels.
The Obama Administration should be commended for helping to increase our nation’s commitment to alternative energy. But investing limited taxpayer dollars in technologies that are short-term solutions, like battery electric or fossil fuel-based, risks putting our nation further behind in the ongoing energy revolution for jobs and a low carbon energy future.
As our elected officials continue to talk about what’s next in alternative energy, companies like Bing Energy International have already brought these promising technologies to market. Our Florida-based facility is creating powerful and cost effective fuel cells that can power our cars and neighborhoods, and they are ready for wide distribution today.
Instead of venturing down the same, worn-out path with the usual suspects, hoping to reach a different destination, the federal government should instead invest in technology like hydrogen that holds a better promise to meet our future needs. Our nation’s energy future depends on it.
Richard Hennek is a co-founder of Bing Energy International, a manufacturer of state-of-the-art components for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells, located in Tallahassee, Fla.