The Obama administration’s about-face on hydrogen cars appears to amount to picking a winner. The big cuts in the budget for hydrogen cars mark a sharp reversal with the Bush administration. Not that it has stopped auto makers: General Motors, Honda, and Toyota all said they’d press ahead with cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
But doesn’t that apply equally to electric cars, or the hope that massively increasing the use of biofuels will lead to energy independence? And both of those transportation alternative are getting more, not less, funding in the federal budget.
If hydrogen’s murky future is just a question of cost, as Dan Sperling of the University of California’s Institute of Transportation Studies pointed out, the government has an easy remedy to hand: Just channel the billions of dollars a year in biofuel subsidies toward a hydrogen-car infrastructure.
The Obama administration seems to be signaling that in this era of trillion-dollar budget deficits and urgency to change the energy mix, not all new technologies are equal. Some deserve funding and some don’t. In short, the federal government seems to be getting into the business of picking winners.
If past is prologue, that’s not a task the government is well-suited to. And it probably won’t sit well with the oil industry, which doesn’t want the federal government to begin throwing its weight around and backing particular energy sources. Consider the message in the Exxon Mobil ad that ran today on the front page of the Wall Street Journal this morning: “Oil, gas, biofuels, nuclear, wind, solar… to fuel the future we need them all.”
* publicado a semana passada pelo The Wall Street Journal