President Bush yesterday tried out several neat-o gadgets powered by hydrogen fuel cells (a video camera and cell phone, among others) and reinforced the lofty language of his State of the Union speech, saying that he would ask Congress to spend $1.2 billion on “a new national commitment to take fuel-cell cars from the laboratory to the showroom.” Enviros and Democratic presidential candidates, however, say the administration’s plan is a crock. First, they point out that fuel-cell cars won’t be clean unless the hydrogen they run on is generated by renewable energy, rather than from fossil fuels. Second, they aren’t satisfied with the timeframe of the administration’s plan. Bush himself predicted that his grandkids would be among the first to drive fuel-cell vehicles; in the meantime, inefficient, polluting cars and SUVs will continue to fill the roadways. Finally, critics note that the government already has its hands on $400 million of the $1.2 million trumpeted by Bush, so his proposal is far less grand than it appears.
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