US Energy Department Loses Half Its Hydrogen Research Funds
Lawmakers intent on delivering federal dollars to their home districts have undermined a major Department of Energy hydrogen research program by robbing it of half of its funding, forcing DOE to delay several key fuel cell studies until 2005, department officials say.
DOE's "Grand Challenge" program, introduced last June, quintupled the administration's commitment to hydrogen storage research. DOE requested $30 million for the project in 2004, up from $6 million in 2002, justified by the fact that fuel storage questions are seen as one of the biggest barriers to the development of hydrogen-powered vehicles.
In the FY '04 Energy and Water appropriations bill, which passed in November, Congress provided $28 million for the Grand Challenge program, only slightly less than DOE requested. But in a department announcement dated Dec. 20, DOE officials said lawmakers earmarked more than half of the budget, diverting money toward activities in their home districts, some of which are unrelated to DOE's hydrogen storage efforts.
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