February 7, 2003

President Bush delivers speech promoting hydrogen use

Washington, D.C. – In conjunction with a display of fuel cell cars from some of world’s leading automakers, U.S. President, George W. Bush delivered a speech at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. on Thursday encouraging energy independence for the United States and promoting the development of hydrogen as a clean fuel.

The following are excerpts from his speech:

“Hydrogen fuel cells represent one of the most encouraging, innovative technologies of our era. And if you’re interested in our environment and if you’re interested in doing what’s right for the American people, if you’re tired of the same old endless struggles that seem to produce nothing but noise and high bills, let us promote hydrogen fuel cells as a way to advance into the 21st century.”

“There’s a lot of advantages that I want to explain to the American people about why this initiative makes sense. First, the hydrogen can be produced from domestic sources — initially, natural gas; eventually, biomass, ethanol, clean coal, or nuclear energy. That’s important. If you can produce something yourself, it means you’re less dependant upon somebody else to produce it.

And not only that, the sources of hydrogen are abundant. The more you have of something relative to demand for that, the cheaper it’s going to be, the less expensive it’ll be for the consumer. The more supply you have of something, one, you’re not going to run out of it and, two, it means that society is going to be more friendly for those who are trying to purchase the supply for needed — for life’s needs.

Hydrogen power is also clean to use. Cars that will run on hydrogen fuel produce only water, not exhaust fumes. Eliminating pollution from cars will obviously make our air healthier. Hydrogen power will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, helping this nation take the lead when it comes to tackling the long-term challenges of global climate change.

One of the greatest results of using hydrogen power, of course, will be energy independence for this nation. It’s important for our country to understand — I think most Americans do — that we import over half of our crude oil stocks from abroad. And sometimes we import that oil from countries that don’t particularly like us…it jeopardizes our national security to be dependant on sources of energy from countries that don’t care for America, what we stand for, what we love. It’s also a matter of economic security, to be dependent on energy from volatile regions of the world. Our economy becomes subject to price shocks or shortages or disruptions, or one time in our history, cartels. If we develop hydrogen power to its full potential, we can reduce our demand for oil by over 11 million barrels per day by the year 2040.”

“So I’m asking Congress to spend $1.2 billion on a new national commitment to take hydrogen fuel cell cars from the laboratory to the showroom. And as I said in my State of the Union, the idea is to see that a car born today — I mean, a child born today will be driving a car, as his or her first car, which will be powered by hydrogen and pollution-free.

It won’t be easy to get there because there are obstacles. It’s important for the American people to know. There are obstacles to overcome. I wouldn’t be proposing this initiative if I didn’t think we could overcome the obstacles. We must make hydrogen more plentiful and produce it in the most efficient, cost-effective way. That is one of our challenges. We must lower the cost of fuel cells, so that the automobile can compete — the cost of the automobile is cost effective. We must increase the capacity of hydrogen storage systems.

And we put in place the infrastructure to get hydrogen to the consumers. There would be nothing worse than developing a car and having no place for somebody to find the fuel. People aren’t going to buy many cars if they can’t refuel their car. (Laughter.) The work has well begun — the freedom car initiative to created partnerships between our government and the auto makers to engineer the next generation of hydrogen fuel cells to power cars. And we’re making progress.

The new effort that we’re undertaking with Congress’ help is to develop a system for producing and delivering hydrogen fuel so that when the cars are ready, people can fill them up at their convenience. It’s a big project because we’re — we’ll be changing years of habit, years of infrastructure must be replaced by a modern way. But we’ll achieve this. It’s going to make economic sense to do this, it’s going to mean that our air is cleaner, and our national security is more secure. It’s going to happen. And I look forward to working with Congress to start the process.”

“We’re also going to work to produce electricity and hydrogen through a process called fusion. Fusion is the same kind of nuclear reaction that produces — that powers the sun. The energy produced will be safe and clean and abundant. We’ve spent quite a bit of money, as the senators here will tell you, on whether or not fusion works. And we’re not sure if it will be able to produce affordable energy for everyday use. But it’s worth a try. It’s worth a look. Because the promise is so great.

So the United States will work with Great Britain and several European nations, as well as Canada, Japan, Russia and China, to build a fusion test facility and create the largest and most advanced fusion experiment in the world. I look forward to working with Congress to get it funded. I know you all have considered this in the past. It’s an incredibly important project to be a part of.”

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