July 01, 2009

Schumer, Gillibrand Urge Full Funding of Fuel Cell Research and Development

GM, Delphi Automotive, Plug Power, And Other Companies, Universities Could Utilize Federal Dollars To Create Jobs And Advance New Energy Programs

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand urged Senate Appropriators to fully fund fuel cell research and development. The United States is a leader in fuel cell research and development and is a critical component of our economic recovery. Companies across New York including GM, Delphi Automotive, Plug Power, Ener-G-Rosors, Nanodynamics, ENrg, Kodak, and Harris RF Communications, as well as institutions including the University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology are significant contributors to fuel cell research and development.

"Fuel cells have been and will continue to be an economic engine in New York State, particularly in Western New York and the Rochester Finger Lakes region," said Schumer.  "Maintaining, and even increasing, the amount of money that goes towards fuel cell research will allow New York companies and universities to continue the ground breaking research they are doing, provide jobs for New Yorkers, and allow the country to work towards a future of energy independence and low pollution vehicles."   

"Companies in New York are at the cutting edge of fuel cell research and development for products of all types, from cars to cameras," said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. "Investment in fuel cells will help us compete internationally in energy and transportation, enhance our country's ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and will create new jobs across the country. It is a significant contributor to our local employment, and I am committed to fighting for jobs throughout New York."

According to assessments by the National Academies and the Hydrogen Technical Advisory Committee, fuel cell technology is not only meeting and exceeding the Department of Energy's long-term research and development plan, but it is also on track to achieve commercial viability by 2015. As the U.S. considers pathways to achieve aggressive goals for gas and greenhouse gas reductions, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand said it is critical to develop diverse technological options, including fuel cells.

Other countries are aggressively pursuing hydrogen and fuel cells including Japan and Germany, which plan early commercialization in the 2015 timeframe. The U.S. is currently a leader in automotive fuel cell technology. Senator Schumer and Gillibrand explained that maintaining funding for the fuel cell program would build on this position and develop hydrogen and fuel cells on the same time as competing nations. 

In a letter late last week to Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Ranking Member Robert Bennett (R-Utah) of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand wrote, "To maintain our nation's leadership role in advanced vehicle technologies, we should maintain and support the advances our nation has won in hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cell research."