A Good Idea!
It is not often that I find myself wanting to write in praise of something the House of Representatives has done, but I do enjoy those rare moments when they occur. Last week, the House voted 416-6 to sponsor an "H-Prize," program to encourage research into the use of hydrogen as an alternative automobile fuel.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bob Inglis and co-sponsored by 26 additional members from both parties, "would award four prizes of up to $1 million every other year for technological advances in hydrogen production, storage, distribution and utilization. One prize of up to $4 million would be awarded every second year for the creation of a working hydrogen vehicle prototype," according to the AP report. "The grand prize, to be awarded within the next 10 years, would go for breakthrough technology."
Inglis called the bill "an opportunity for a triple play": increased security by decreasing the use of foreign oil, environmental improvements, and new jobs. Science Committee Chairman Sherry Boehlert (a cosponsor) said "Prizes can draw out new ideas from scientists and engineers who may not be willing or able to participate in traditional government research and development programs, while encouraging them, rather than the taxpayer, to assume the risk." Democrat Dan Lipinski, another cosponsor, added "Perhaps the greatest role that the H-Prize may serve is in spurring the imagination of our most valuable resource, our youth."
A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by Lindsey Graham and Byron Dorgan; action is expected in the near future.
This is precisely the kind of investment that is needed to spur increased interest and innovation in the energy industry and beyond. I applaud the House action, and I urge the Senate to pass the bill and send it to the president's desk.