Here’s something that struck me as interesting this morning. Did you read the op-ed piece by my friend Kevin Dietrich, arguing — as you would expect someone at the S.C. Policy Council to argue — against our state’s investment in hydrogen research? An excerpt:
In the past few years, taxpayers have poured tens of millions of state and local tax dollars into hydrogen research even though multiple experts question how viable the technology will be in offsetting U.S. reliance on foreign oil or reducing carbon emissions.
“A hydrogen car is one of the least efficient, most expensive ways to reduce greenhouse gases,” said Joseph Romm, a physicist in charge of renewable energy research during the Carter administration. Asked when hydrogen cars will be broadly available, Romm replied: “Not in our lifetime, and very possibly never.”
The Los Angeles Times was blunter in assessing the future of hydrogen-powered vehicles: “Hydrogen fuel-cell technology won’t work in cars…. Any way you look at it, hydrogen is a lousy way to move cars.”
What struck me about it was that, without naming the author, Kevin was quoting the very same L.A. Times column by Dan Neil that I was praising yesterday. (Now I know why Cindi Scoppe happened to run across the Neil piece and bring it to my attention yesterday — she was doing her due diligence as an editor in checking Kevin’s source material, and recognized the piece as something I’d be interested in.)
The difference, of course, lies in the degrees to which Kevin and I considered the full text of the piece to which we referred. I was up-front with y’all about Neil’s arguments against hydrogen as a fuel source for cars. I didn’t blink at that at all. But I also emphasized the very positive things he said about Honda’s hydrogen car project, on my way to making some positive points about why hydrogen research is worthwhile.
Kevin, in standard S.C. Policy Council “if it involves the government spending money, it’s bad” style, cited ONLY the negative. Kevin’s a good guy, and he’s completely sincere about the things he says. But I ask you — given what I got out of the Neil piece and what Kevin got out of it — who has his eyes completely open? Who explored the full implications of the piece (which I again invite you to go read for yourself)?
I raise this point not to criticize Kevin, but to praise our state and community’s commitment to this research. From what I’ve seen and heard, the hydrogen researchers are very realistic about the limitations of H as a fuel source for cars from where we stand at this moment. But their eyes are open to what this research DOES offer South Carolina, Columbia and the nation.