America Is Being Duped!

'The problem is the automotive industry has conned us 'green' citizens into thinking that hydrogen is the ONLY alternative,' writes Robert Chase, an engineering student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Published: 08-Jan-2007

Right now I am bewildered; I have been duped. The worst part is I truly felt that I had been supporting and planning to enter into a field that has been setup to dupe the American public. I shall not concede the fact that Hydrogen is better than gasoline; it most definitely is. The problem is the automotive industry has conned us ‘green’ citizens into thinking that hydrogen is the ONLY alternative.

For years I have been championing alternative fuels. I may be young, but I certainly don’t think that I am stupid. It should be obvious to every American that there is a problem which the world needs to address. The world is overly dependant on oil from deep down in the earth’s core. This fuel is very dirty and creates a large percentage of the pollution in the air in our urban centers of civilization. Everyone knows this fact and knows there needs to be something done; the problem is no one has forced a change. The only institution that has even tried was the C.A.R.B institution which challenged the auto industry. The problem with this institution is they laid down when the car companies challenged them in court. The CARB regulations have set regulations on the type of vehicles that could be sold in the state of California. These regulations stated that a certain number of vehicles had to be electric vehicles; or in other terms have no emissions. All of the major car companies had engineered and created cars that would make it possible to meet these regulations, but they decided it wasn’t profitable enough; the programs were killed along with the legislation. Ever since the auto industry has championed fuel cell technology, and I bought into it. Fuel cell technology can be a great technology, and has a great amount of potential.

I am an engineering student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute studying Materials Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. The number one reason I chose to go to RPI is the fact that there is a Fuel Cell development center. I have been looking into going into the field to work directly with fuel cells. Though after further investigation, along with viewing the documentary Who Killed The Electric Car I am greatly worried. Is this new interest in hydrogen technology another ploy simply to stall any progress when it comes to Americans and their oil dependence? Until recently I hadn’t questioned the drive by the automakers to publicize their hydrogen research. I had been in the back of my mind hoping that one day maybe I would work in the GM Fuel Cell division, but right now I’m questioning whether I should put my faith in a company that has gone through similar motions before simply to give dedicated people the boot for better profits.

The EV1 was a revolutionary car, which barely anyone ever knew about. I’m a very conscientious person when it comes to automotive technology, yet even I had not known of this program by GM where they had a whole fleet of pure electric vehicles which were a perfectly viable solution to our dilemma. This fleet was destroyed because GM didn’t want to mass produce them, and they were able to defeat the regulations set by CARB. All of the people who had put their heart and soul into designing this vehicle were discarded. Will they do this again with fuel cells? They have been saying for a decade or two now that fuel cells will be available in a decade or two. Well guess what they are still singing the same tune. I personally feel like I have been duped.

I am in an uncomfortable position; do I continue my path towards fuel cells, or should I find myself another route? I without a doubt want to be involved in creating cleaner technology, but am I willing to work my heart to death on a second viable solution to see my work killed because of profits? My dreams may be killed for the moment, but I’m hoping that I can find my own way into the auto industry and have the ability to change the way they treat clean technologies.

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