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UC-Davis Hosts Governor, Industry for Signing of
Hydrogen Highways
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Jeff SerfassBy Jeff Serfass, President, National Hydrogen Association

Never has the promise of hydrogen and fuel cells been witnessed by so many media cameras and reporters.  On April 22, 2004, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made real his campaign promise to make hydrogen fueling stations available to all Californians and the press and broadcast media came out in force with a phalanx of nearly 15 cameras lined up across the back of the invitation only audience.  It was a well staged event, hosted by University of California at Davis.

Industry leadership from leading automobile, fuel cell, hydrogen fueling, and energy companies also showed its support for the Governor’s initiative with about 300 CEOs, marketing executives and government officials in the audience.  Approximately 10 hydrogen automobiles were on display and an AC Transit hydrogen bus from the San Francisco Bay area provided the stage backdrop for the ceremony.  Among the fueling stations displayed was a solar powered station from Unisolar and Stuart Energy.  There was a lot to see and it was exciting.

The National Hydrogen Association was given VIP treatment with President Jeff Serfass invited up on stage with other leaders to witness the Governor’s signing of the Executive Order to create California’s Hydrogen Highway and to shake the actor/governor’s hand in mutual congratulations.  NHA Board member Bud Beebe from the Sacramento Municipal Utility District commented “California is embarking on the use of hydrogen in transportation and stationery applications with an emphasis on its production from renewable resources, with an action plan, not just words and announcements of studies.”  Other NHA Directors in attendance included BP’s Maria Curry-Nkansah and AC Transit’s Jamie Levin.

The Executive Order promises to deliver a hydrogen fueling infrastructure by 2010, providing access to hydrogen along the state’s Interstate and other major highways, sufficient for all Californians to be able to fuel a hydrogen car by the end of the decade. It is estimated that an early network of 150 to 200 hydrogen fueling stations, positioned approximately every 20 miles or so, will provide the necessary fueling capability so that “vehicle manufacturers can begin to deliver clean, powerful hydrogen vehicles to California showrooms.”

The theme of the Governor’s message is that environmental stewardship and economic value are not incompatible.  “Bringing hydrogen to California means jobs for Californians, clean air for its citizens, and energy security for the state,” the same three drivers that the NHA cites in its Policy Agenda.  And clearly, Governor Schwarzenegger wants California to be both first and a model for the nation.

UC-Davis’s Chancellor Larry N. Vanderhoef began the signing the ceremony with an eloquent message of educational support for the initiative.  UC-Davis’s Institute of Transportation Studies, and NHA member, is the focal point for development of a hydrogen transportation Development roadmap, led by former Princeton researcher Joan Ogden.  ITS Director Dan Sperling served on the recent National Academy of Sciences review panel examining the U.S. Department of Energy’s hydrogen programs.

California Environmental Protection Agency’s Secretary Terry Tamminen provided the rationale for hydrogen in California, an appropriate introduction to the Governor.  Mr. Tamminen acknowledged some of the many California leaders in the audience, including California Air Resources Board Director, Alan Lloyd, Energy Independence Now Director Daniel Emmitt and California Hydrogen Business Council Chairman Hank Wedaa.  Governor Schwarzenegger introduced two California agency Secretaries, then delivered a short punchy speech and concluded by signing the Executive Order.   ©2003. All Rights Reserved. A Publication of the National Hydrogen Association.
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