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Web Letter

Unfortunately, too much of this article is pure fantasy.

I'll give one example that shows the pattern. It is quite warped to pretend that the Republicans are unconcerned when their calculations of what efforts will be effective differ from this forum's general orthodoxy.

This ignores the passionate debates going on within their party, so it is, in the original sense, an "ignorant" position.

I personally have come to the reluctant viewpoint that I doubt if any governmental action has the potential to do much good in this particular mix of messes. Each positive point has equal negative side effects that will hurt.

Would you them try to pretend that I, too, am uncaring or unconcerned?

John D. Froelich

Upper Darby, PA

Feb 23 2009 - 12:22pm

Web Letter

In the inevitable next round of stimulus spending, let's get busy building hydrogen infrastructure. For years we have heard about the promise of the hydrogen economy. Hydrogen is the most plentiful element on Earth and can be extracted from water via electrolysis and from natural gas, and yesterday I came across this interesting article explaining recent developments in extracting hydrogen from biomass.

The naysayers always point out the chicken-and-egg problem that impedes development of the hydrogen economy. There are precious few automobiles capable of running on hydrogen, no hydrogen transmission and distribution network and few retail pumping stations in place. The carmakers point to the lack of hydrogen infrastructure as the reason for not building hydrogen-fueled vehicles, and those who might invest in infrastructure see no demand for the fuel.

So long as we are spending hundreds of billions on "infrastructure," why not invest in a project that cries out for government investment? Just as private industry saw little incentive to extend electricity to rural areas in the 1920s and '30s, and the federal government created TVA and BPA etc., today we need the government to construct the pipelines and stations needed to bring the hydrogen economy to life. A few years back I was told the infrastructure investment would need to be on the order of $200-300 billion. These days I think it is safe to ask, Is that all? What are we waiting for?

With wind-generated electricity in the sparsely populated Arctic and subarctic areas of North America used to extract hydrogen from the plentiful water resources up north (including the ocean), we can begin weaning away from gasoline combustion engines and move to fuel cells, or simply burn hydrogen directly as we do with natural gas today in CNG vehicles. We'd create thousands of jobs for engineers and other professionals and construction workers in the US and Canada, while at the same time addressing global warming concerns.

Keynes taught that to stimulate demand, having people at work burying cash in Mason jars would suffice. We all know the stimulus package just signed into law will not be enough. When the next round of stimulus legislation begins, as it inevitably will, let's be ready to push for inclusion of hydrogen delivery and point-of-sale infrastructure. This investment will pay huge dividends for generations into the future.

I for one am convinced that this is a case of "if you build it they will come."

Bob Tallman

Crestwood, KY

Feb 18 2009 - 11:36am

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