California Governor Gives a Boost to Hydrogen Infrastructure

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is trying to kick-start the so-called hydrogen revolution. Yesterday, he signed an executive order establishing a public-private partnership aimed at building a network of some 200 hydrogen fueling stations in the state by 2010, at an estimated cost of $100 million. (California is in dire financial straits, so the money is expected to come from private investment and federal funds.) If successful, the plan could mark a metamorphosis in transportation, but there’s no shortage of skeptics. A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences predicted it would be 2015 before the first hydrogen cars hit the market, and many enviros worry about the need for “a lot of fossil fuels at the front end to get to hydrogen at the back end,” as energy expert Joseph Romm put it. Some enviros say the focus should be on accelerating the spread of already-existing hybrid cars. Current demand for hybrids in California is so great that many would-be buyers are waiting three to four months to get their hands on the popular Toyota Prius.