View Full Version : Garrett, a timely comment about HFI

04-21-2005, 02:46 PM
This interesting story about the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative (http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/04/21/energy.bill.pambo/index.html) just popped up on CNN.

Apparently, I'm not the only one with a low opinion of the value of the HFI.

"It's not a short-term solution because we just don't have the technology to produce it," he said, adding that the promised hydrogen-powered vehicles are "multimillion-dollar prototypes that nobody's going to buy."

--House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-CaliforniaHe used some stronger words.

This is a classic pork barrel program. $2 Billion from taxpayers to automakers to research something that we won't see for 15 years and we won't want to buy.

Garrett Lowell
04-21-2005, 02:54 PM
And this:

"Pombo said afterward that despite his dismissive comment he thinks it's important the hydrogen technology gets funded in the bill, which is expected to pass the House Thursday before going to the Senate where it faces an uncertain future.

"Long term it's good energy policy, but this is something that's out 10 years from now,' he said."

Again, you have to start somewhere. I agree, CAFE changes would be good. But right now, with gas prices going higher, the automobile market is already doing a little adjustment of it's own. It's hard to say what's going to happen 15 years from now.

Garrett Lowell
04-21-2005, 03:09 PM
After reading that article several times, and if Pombo did say what was written, then I have a hard time taking him seriously. He has a bit of John Kerry in him.

04-21-2005, 03:13 PM
I noticed that, and had to scratch me head a little.

He thinks it's bullsh**t, he says it's not practical, but he says it's important that it gets funded.

I remember when conservatives would say that this is the perfect example of why government shouldn't get involved in business: it's wasteful.

Basically, they are handing GM $2 Billion of our money and saying, "let us know when you need more." And what do they expect in return? In fifteen years, we'll see a compact car that costs $100,000 and has a top speed of 40 miles per hour and you'll only be able to fill it up at one station in each state (except Alaska).

Meanwhile, we continue to waste gas with massive cars.

How much you want to bet that GM makes a healthy campaign contribution to a couple of senators who put their name on this? If it's anything like the prescription drug bill, the congressional aides can look forward to some pretty comfy jobs in detroit. I'm sure the lobbyists took a healthy fee.

John Kerry doesn't have anything to do with it. It's a Republican senator, supporting a Republican plan. He may think it's stupid, but he toes the line. Hey, it's not as if it's his money he's giving away. If he didn't know the mike was on, we'd never know what he really thinks.

[ 04-21-2005, 04:18 PM: Message edited by: ljb5 ]

Garrett Lowell
04-21-2005, 03:36 PM
Well, I believe alternate energy technologies need some research, but if they (meaning Pombo and co.) really believe this particular research project is bull, then I have to agree with you on this topic.
What are the alternatives, long term, given the finite resource of oil?

04-21-2005, 05:46 PM
Originally posted by Garrett Lowell:
What are the alternatives, long term, given the finite resource of oil?Gee, that's a tough question.

I'm afraid that we may never find another fuel source as good as oil. Except for the pollution, it's perfect; Cheap, easy to processs, refine, store, and use, safe and powerful and it scales well. Basically, it's the same technology to run everything from a weed-wacker to a battleship.

Eventually, most everything will be electric, because it is a very good medium. But electricity is not an energy source, only a means of conveying energy.

There are a number of good ways to produce electricity. Wind and solar can work for some small, local applications. Hydroelectric dams show a lot of promise, but from an environmental standpoint, they're a disaster.

The greatest promise is from nuclear power. Currently, Japan gets about 75% of their electricity from fission. I think France is somewhere around 50%. Fusion would be even better, but the technology is a long way off and might never emerge.

The problems with nuclear power are the waste (where to put it for 50,000 years) and that it doesn't scale well. A nuclear plant requires a lot of equipment to control the reaction and handle the waste. It doesn't seem likely that anything smaller than a container ship could carry all the equipment.

I suspect we'll have massive nuclear power plants which convert energy into various distribution mediums (electricty, hydrogen, chemical reactions, etc).

I also suspect that no one will have SUVs. A drive across town might seem like a luxury. Enormous houses in the suburbs will be impractical and we'll all have to make do with a little less.

One thing that always disturbs me about this subject is that some people say, "We'll continue to use oil until the smart people figure out something better." At the same time, the smart people are saying, "For gosh sakes, stop using so much oil!" In the final analysis, conservation is always economical. Waste is not a capitalist value.

Garrett Lowell
04-21-2005, 08:25 PM
Yes, I suppose we will need to rely more and more on nuclear power. I wonder to myself if hydrogen fuel-cell hybrids will be an option, with the electricity needed to perform electrolysis coming from nuclear power plants, augmented by vast arrays of solar cells in the SW.

04-21-2005, 09:24 PM
The honest truth is that I don't know what will happen, and I doubt anyone knows for sure.

Given that level of uncertainty, is it wise to hasten the end of oil, plunging forward in massive SUVs at 12 mpg?

Clearly, we are not doing everything possible to conserve oil. Does anyone believe we are doing everything reasonable?

Maybe the Persian Gulf war was about oil, maybe not.

Maybe the Iraq war is about oil, maybe not.

Does anyone doubt that some day, there will be a war about oil?

[ 04-21-2005, 10:37 PM: Message edited by: ljb5 ]