The Hydrogen Hypocrites

Duplicity Amongst The White House's Energy Allies

Published: 06-Feb-2003

As President Bush pushes his hydrogen and fuel cell plan, recent actions by some of his corporate allies suggest that the White House's initiative is merely an attempt to distract the media from Bush's woeful environmental record.

On February 5, ExxonMobil held a closed-door lobbying briefing for some House staffers. According to a source present at the meeting, ExxonMobil representatives said they would be working closely with the president on his hydrogen initiative. But during the briefing, they also reported that fossil fuels would be an increasingly dominant energy source over the next 20 years, and they cautioned that hydrogen fuel cells would not only be more expensive but could be worse for the environment than gasoline-powered vehicles. During the presentation, one ExxonMobil representative allegedly displayed a photograph of a hydrogen explosion at a refinery to illustrate the safety problems with the fuel source.

While ExxonMobil publicly bills itself to be working on ways to clean up the air and lessen oil dependence, the energy giant is also telling Congress that hydrogen is a bad idea. As such, the company appears to endorse the notion of gasoline-based fuel cells -- using gasoline as a fuel, then converting that to be used by a fuel cell engine by equipment on the car itself or at a gas pump -- but its actions suggest it aims to suppress rapid development of alternative energy. Does the president share that view, and is this all just part of a larger, elaborate hustle to head off tougher fuel economy standards?

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