Environmental, consumer and public policy organizations to challenge President Bush’s launch of the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy

Friends of the Earth * The Foundation on Economic Trends * Global Resource Action Center for the Environment * Greenpeace * The League of Conservation Voters * MoveOn.org * Public Citizen * The Sierra Club * U.S. Public Interest Research Group

Nov. 17, 2003

Environmental, consumer and public policy organizations to challenge President Bush’s launch of the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy

 

The Green Hydrogen Coalition accuses the Bush administration of attempting to hijack America’s hydrogen future to promote the interests of the coal, oil, gas and nuclear industries

 

The Green Hydrogen Coalition calls for greater reliance on renewable sources of energy to extract hydrogen and vows to make the issue of black versus green hydrogen an election year issue

WASHINGTON, DC — A coalition of the nation’s environmental, consumer and public policy organizations, including Friends of the Earth, The Foundation on Economic Trends, Global Resource Action Center for the Environment, Greenpeace, the League of Conservation Voters, MoveOn.org, Public Citizen, the Sierra Club and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG), announced today an election year public education campaign to challenge the upcoming launch of President Bush’s International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy (IPHE). The White House will host a meeting of energy ministers from around the world on November 19-21, in Washington, D.C., to sign a landmark agreement to share research and development on hydrogen related activity, with a goal of ushering in a hydrogen economy over the course of the next several decades. The United States will serve as the secretariat of this first-of-a-kind global research and development effort.

While the Green Hydrogen Coalition supports a hydrogen future for America and the world, it charges the Bush administration with promoting a black hydrogen rather than a green hydrogen research and development agenda.

The Bush administration says that harnessing hydrogen will free the U.S. from dependence on Mideast oil and provide a non-polluting source of energy for electricity and transport. In reality, the White House plan calls for massive subsidies to the coal and nuclear industries to extract hydrogen—a black hydrogen agenda. While Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham claims that the Bush administration is equally committed to research and development of renewable sources of energy to extract hydrogen—a green hydrogen agenda—the current energy bill tells a different story. The bill contains subsidies of more than $8 billion to the fossil fuels and nuclear industries and less than $4 billion to the renewable energy industries in its current draft.

The Green Hydrogen Coalition (GHC) charges the White House with using the IPHE initiative both as a smokescreen to deflect attention away from its dismal anti-environmental record and as a forum to promote the interests of the coal, oil, gas and nuclear industries.

The Green Hydrogen Coalition warns that if the United States is successful in steering the IPHE towards a black hydrogen future, it could lock the global economy into the old energy regime for much of the 21st century, with dire environmental and economic consequences.

The Green Hydrogen Coalition announces its own plan to launch a public education campaign to expose the Bush administration’s black hydrogen agenda and says that it will mobilize voters and call on candidates for office to support expanded research and development into using renewable sources of energy to extract hydrogen.

The Green Hydrogen Coalition believes that the shift to fuel cells and a hydrogen economy will be as significant and far reaching in its impact on the American and global economy as the steam engine and coal in the 19th century and the internal combustion engine and oil in the 20th century. The vast energy and ecological benefits of a hydrogen future will only be realized, however, according to the Coalition, if renewable sources of energy become the prime source for extracting hydrogen. The coalition will lobby member countries in the IPHE to support a green hydrogen approach to the research and development of hydrogen energy.

The Green Hydrogen Coalition advocates an intentional program to build a renewable hydrogen-based future. While the green hydrogen economy is being phased in, the Coalition advocates simultaneously dealing with today’s environmental problems directly and without delay through immediate implementation of solutions that are currently available, including: significant increases to vehicle fuel economy, the introduction of hybrid electric vehicles which pave the way to fuel cell cars, the redesign and overhaul of the nation’s power grid, massive energy conservation measures, the Kyoto Protocol global warming treaty, and benchmarks targeting renewable energy adoption. The Coalition believes that these initiatives should parallel efforts by the IPHE to subsidize and underwrite the research and development of renewable energy technology, hydrogen and fuel cells. Governments should set the goal of a fully integrated green hydrogen economy by the middle of the 21st century.

To read the coalition’s statement, click here.

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“The path toward a hydrogen economy must be paved with renewable energy and energy conservation. Unfortunately, the Bush administration is poised to pollute a hydrogen future by emphasizing dirty and dangerous fuels such as coal and nuclear power.”

–Brent Blackwelder, president, Friends of the Earth

“President Bush and the environmental community agree that hydrogen is America’s future. We disagree on where to get the hydrogen from. The White House would like to extract hydrogen from coal and natural gas and by harnessing nuclear power to the task—locking us into a black hydrogen future. The environmental community would like to use renewable sources of energy like wind, solar, hydro and geothermal to extract hydrogen from water or to extract hydrogen from biomass—a green hydrogen future. The issue of black versus green hydrogen is going to be the seminal environmental question of the coming century.”

–Jeremy Rifkin, president, The Foundation on Economic Trends

“Powerful forces from the fossil fuel and nuclear industries are trying to hijack the promise of clean, safe energy – generated sustainably by the wind, the sun and the tides—in a cynical attempt to produce hydrogen fuel from the self-same energy sources which are wreaking havoc on our environment, increasing the likelihood of nuclear war and the destruction of earth’s habitat. We need to employ the already existing solutions for conservation and sustainable energy production while shifting enormous taxpayer subsidies from polluting fuel industries and moving full speed ahead to develop the abundant promise of a green hydrogen economy.”

–Alice Slater, president, Global Resource Action Center for the Environment

“The Bush Administration is distracting us with the veil of energy security and leading the world down the wrong hydrogen road with a dirty scheme of hydrogen from nuclear and coal power. The Bush hydrogen partnership is another attempt to divert attention from their dangerous environmental policies by doing research and development instead of taking action now to solve problems. The only hydrogen economy that will ultimately provide national and environmental security is green hydrogen.”

–John Passacantando, executive director, Greenpeace

“While this international program of hydrogen research is laudable, the Bush administration should consider itself on notice that a mere photo-op does not constitute a progressive global energy policy.  Hydrogen-related research should focus on renewable energy sources, not old, discredited, polluting technologies.”

–Deb Callahan, president, League of Conservation Voters

“If the Bush administration had its way, the world would be overrun with nuclear power plants to fuel an extremely energy-inefficient economy. Creating thousands of tons of nuclear waste while extracting hydrogen makes a mockery of clean energy goals; we must emphasize conservation and renewables over production and pollution.”

–Joan Claybrook, president, Public Citizen

“Getting hydrogen from dirty or unsafe sources makes no sense. It’s like trying to lose weight by jogging to McDonalds.”

–Dan Becker, director, Sierra Club Global Warming and Energy Program

 “The good news is that here in the U.S., we have great untapped potential to generate energy and hydrogen from clean renewable sources like solar, wind, clean biomass and geothermal energy. The bad news is the Bush Administration opposes setting strong national renewable energy standards and global warming pollution reduction standards, and instead keeps us in the dark ages with continued reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear power.”

–Katherine Morrison, staff attorney, U.S. Public Interest Research Group

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