Not over yet: Senate subcommittee restores DOE's hydrogen funding cut

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It was huge news back in May when President Obama and the DOE slashed hydrogen vehicle funding from the FY 2010 DOE budget. Since then, hydrogen advocates like CARB have put on the best possible face and asked the DOE to restore the funds. The first steps towards officially putting H 2 back into the federal money stream has now been made in Washington, D.C.

The change comes from the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, run by U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) The subcommittee has finished marking up the DOE's FY 2010 budget and it now includes $190 million for continuation of the terminated hydrogen research and development program. Dorgan said in a release that "because ongoing research and development is necessary to develop game-changing technologies, this bill also restores funding for Hydrogen energy research." Hydrogen advocate Greg Blencoe notes that the House's version of hydrogen funding includes $108 million, including $40 million for hydrogen vehicles. The two chambers will reconcile their differences soon, probably within the next two weeks.

There's a copy of the National Hydrogen Association's most recent Policy Update after the jump and you can find the subcommittee's press release on this page (scroll to the middle and click on "Summary of FY 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations"). DOE head Stephen Chu has made strong comments in favor of the cut. Is a hydrogen political fight brewing in D.C.?

[Source: Hydrogen Car Revolution]

From the National Hydrogen Association:

Policy Update ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Greetings NHA Members and Friends,

The Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee (Senator Dorgan's Subcommittee) just finished marking up DOE's FY10 budget. The Chairman's mark that emerged from the Subcommittee provides a total of $190 million for hydrogen and fuel cells at DOE, largely restoring funding to FY2009 levels [the $68M that was in DOE's FY10 request for fuel cells would be included in that $190M]. We do not yet have further details on how the Senate Subcommittee would allocate this funding between sub-programs, etc., but we will continue to provide updates as soon as developments occur.

According to Chairman Dorgan: "The Energy and Water Appropriations bill makes investments in our nation's efforts to develop safe, homegrown energy sources that will reduce our reliance on foreign oil. To enhance our nation's energy security, we've made short-term, mid-range, and long-term investments in building efficiency, vehicle technologies, wind, and solar energy programs. And, because ongoing research and development is necessary to develop game-changing technologies, this bill also restores funding for Hydrogen energy research."

A link to a summary of the Senate E&W Subcommittee's bill is available in the middle of this webpage:

For a comparison, the Senate Subcommittee's $190 million compares to the current House total of $108 million for hydrogen and fuel cells (the $40M for 'hydrogen vehicle systems' in addition to the $68M that was in the DOE FY10 request for fuel cells).

The full House Appropriations Committee also met last night to review the proposed FY10 budget that was passed by their Energy and Water Development Subcommittee on June 25th. The budget the full committee agreed to contained the same $40 million increase for hydrogen transportation systems that the House E&W Subcommittee had added to the DOE FY10 proposed budget. The House budget will now proceed to the House floor, currently rumored to be expected sometime in mid-July. Once completed in both the House and Senate, any differences between the House and Senate budgets would need to be negotiated in a conference committee. We will continue to support FY09 budget funding levels, now encouraging support for the Senate E&W Subcommittee's version through Congress.

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