Text of WTOP Radio Statement on H-Prize06/21/2007
Today, America faces an enormous challenge, finding a new clean energy source that will free us from our dependence on foreign oil and combat global climate change. As Vice Chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, I know how critical it is to encourage American innovation to meet this challenge.
One alternative source of energy that has great potential is hydrogen. Hydrogen-fueled cars already exist, and when I drove one the performance was exceptional. But there are significant technical and economic barriers that must be overcome before we can put one of these cars in every American garage. Fortunately, these advances are within reach.
That is why I introduced the H-Prize Act of 2007 along with Rep Bob Inglis of South Carolina. This bipartisan bill would establish 50 million dollars in prizes over a ten-year period to spur innovation in hydrogen technologies and advance the use of hydrogen as a fuel for transportation. Earlier this month the House passed the H-Prize Act by a vote of 408 to 8. The bill now must pass the Senate.
While we must continue to invest in traditional grants to fund university research, we in Congress have a responsibility to find creative and new ways - such as the H-Prize - to inspire researchers, business leaders, and America's youth to address the great energy challenge we face today.
When advances are made, hydrogen will fill critical energy needs beyond transportation, such as generating electricity and providing heat. Most importantly, hydrogen will be a clean, domestic energy source. When used to create energy, hydrogen produces no emissions besides water. And by utilizing hydrogen we can improve our national security by lessening our dependence on foreign oil.
America has always been at the forefront of technological breakthroughs. We have responded to great challenges, perhaps most famously President John F. Kennedy's challenge to land a man on the moon. And prizes have been an effective way to inspire technological advances, such as the Ansari X-Prize given to the first private team to build and fly a spaceship. Challenges and prizes help to spark the imagination of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs who invest blood, sweat, tears, and often large sums of money, to achieve a great goal.
It is my hope that one day we will look back on the H-Prize as a major catalyst that led to a better, cleaner, more secure America and world.