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Wyden, Cox Unveil Legislation to Make Hydrogen Fuel Vehicles a Marketable Alternative within 10 Years
Bipartisan bill would establish tax incentives to encourage purchase of hydrogen vehicles, creation of fuel and construction of fueling stations

February 11, 2003

Washington (February 11, 2003) Legislation unveiled today by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and U.S. Representative Christopher Cox (R-Calif.) seeks to make hydrogen powered vehicles marketable alternatives for consumers within the next 10 years. Unlike other legislation that dedicates funding for research and development of hydrogen fuel cars, the Wyden-Cox H2GROW Act (Hydrogen Transportation Wins Over Growing Reliance on Oil) only provides Federal funding for actions that put vehicles on the road, produce hydrogen fuel for vehicles or fueling infrastructure. The legislation would implement a mix of tax incentives and tax holidays to dramatically improve the market and infrastructure for hydrogen fuel and the vehicles it powers. At a news conference announcing their joint effort, Wyden and Cox were joined by representatives of General Motors, Toyota and the Natural Resources Defense Council who supported the legislation as a strong move toward reducing dependence on foreign oil while improving the environment.

"This is the first bipartisan proposal that brings together environmentalists and the industry to get America moving under hydrogen power in the next decade," said Wyden. "Our bill will provide concrete rewards for everyone who takes steps to put hydrogen fuel cell cars on the road and reduce our dependence on foreign oil."

"Commercially available hydrogen-powered cars will soon be a reality, but consumers will not buy them until they are confident that they can refuel on America's road and highways," Chairman Cox said. "It's the classic 'chicken and egg' problem. The automakers have never been in the gasoline business, and have expressed no interest in the hydrogen business. But without widely available refueling stations, no one will buy hydrogen-fueled cars."

By 2012, the H2GROW Act seeks to reduce reliance on 30 million barrels of foreign oil a year by dramatically increasing the prevalence of hydrogen powered vehicles, prototypes of which are being developed by major automobile manufactures. The bill focuses on helping fuel cell vehicles become a viable alternative to traditional gasoline powered vehicles by offering incentives to get more of the vehicles on the road, increase production of hydrogen fuel and create the infrastructure throughout the country to guarantee accessibility to hydrogen fuel.

"The performance-based incentives established by H2 GROW are designed to ensure that fuel cell vehicles get out of the laboratory and onto the highway," said Dan Lashoff, science director for the NRDC climate center. "America needs a comprehensive strategy to break the chain of oil dependence that compromises our environment and our security. The H2 GROW Act is a key component of that strategy."

The H2GROW Act seeks to dramatically increase the number of fuel cell vehicles on the road over the next decade by providing tax credits for the retail purchase of fuel cell-powered vehicles. The bill would allow a maximum tax credit of 25 percent of the sale price of a hydrogen powered vehicle with a cap of $50,000; the tax credit steadily decreases each year to a five percent credit and $10,000 cap in 2012. The bill also mandates that hydrogen powered vehicles must comprise a minimum percentage of federal fleets, from five percent for fleets of 100 vehicles or more in 2006 to 50 percent for fleets of 50 vehicles or more in 2012.

"The tax incentives proposed by Sen. Wyden and Rep. Cox will play an important role in fostering the market for this amazing new technology," Christine Sloan, director of the GM FreedomCAR and Advanced Technology Planning, said at the news conference. "As with many new technologies, the cost of the first fuel cell vehicles will be higher than conventional cars and trucks. The Wyden/Cox bill is an important component in an equation that will soon lead to radically cleaner and more efficient vehicles for Americans."

In addition to helping create a market for the vehicles and make them more affordable, the bill focuses on developing the hydrogen fuel infrastructure necessary to reliably power the vehicles. To make hydrogen fuel readily accessible, the H2GROW Act establishes tax credits for the retail sale, production and use of hydrogen fuel. The bill also provides tax incentives to taxpayers who install hydrogen refueling equipment in their homes, companies that manufacture and sell hydrogen refueling equipment, clean fuel refueling properties and purchasers for hydrogen fuel cells intended to be expanded for hydrogen vehicle refueling.

"Toyota applauds Senator Wyden and Representative Cox for their bipartisan, bicameral efforts in support of an idea that is a win-win for society," said Charles Ing, corporate legislative affairs manager, Toyota Motor North America. "Movement to a hydrogen economy will help provide energy security for our nation and protection for our environment. This is an important step on the long road to bringing fuel cell vehicles to mass market."

Unlike traditional gasoline powered vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles produce no harmful emissions. Water is the only byproduct produced when hydrogen fuel is used to power a vehicle. As a result, hydrogen powered vehicles have been touted as an environmentally-sensible alternative that can reduce air pollution and help reduce global warming.


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