Wamp Urges High Priority for Hydrogen Power Development

US Congressman urges speed up to time table for implementation of hydrogen economy

Published: 16-Jan-2004

The exploration of space and the president’s space initiative is a worthy program, but Congress and the nation needs to consider where the priorities should be and development of a hydrogen-powered economy should be at the top of the list, Third District Congressman Zach Wamp told the Chattanooga Mortgage Bankers Association.

Speaking at the MBA monthly luncheon at the Choo Choo, he said he is “all for space exploration,” but this country is the world’s largest petroleum user and has only 4 percent of the world’s petroleum reserves. “We are very dependent on Middle East oil.”

When the president advocated development of a hydrogen economy, he said, it was presented as a 15 to 20 year goal. “It needs to be an 8 to 10 year plan,” he said. “We now have a vehicle powered by a hydrogen fuel cell combination,” he continued, but there is no infrastructure to support it, and that must be developed just as the nation developed interstate highways and put a man on the moon.

Developing alternate power sources was one of several topics covered by Rep. Wamp who voiced strong opposition to the president’s plan to offer amnesty to illegal aliens. “He’s wrong on the immigration reform proposal,” the congressman said, declaring that he will not support it. “It means amnesty for people who are here illegally.”

While discussing the president’s space initiative, he said the initiative proposes spending $1 billion on the program in five years, a $200 million a year increase to NASA.

Huntsville, he continued, is “part of our technology corridor” and today “is bigger than Chattanooga.” The federal investment in Huntsville, he added, is almost as much as Tennessee’s operating budget for a year. The federal budget for Huntsville is $14 billion a year and the Tennessee budget is $17 billion.

Oak Ridge, he said, has an annual federal budget of $2.8 billion.

Talking about the technology expertise in Oak Ridge, he said some time ago he had asked that they use their talents to develop a portable hospital deployable on the battlefield. In a recent visit to Oak Ridge, they displayed a system they had designed, engineered and manufactured.

It was a “hospital box” that measured two feet by three feet by 12 feet. With the push of a button on the side, activating the box’s energy source, it started unfolding and in two minutes produced a complete, self-contained operating room in which heart surgery could be performed.

He said he has now asked them to develop a way to replace gasoline service stations with hydrogen stations “so we can use it.”

Talking of alternate energy sources, he said in France, which is extremely pro-environment, 70 percent of the electricity is produced by nuclear plants. They see nuclear power as “green power, as clean power.”

Meanwhile, 60 percent of the electricity produced by TVA comes from coal fired, fossil fuels and 10 percent is nuclear. The problem here is that the anti-nuclear movement has created a scare that has blocked development.

[Article edited to focus on hydrogen topic]

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