What: All Issues : Environment : Renewable Energy : Advanced Fuels Research and Development Act (H.R. 547)/Rep. Charles Dent (R-Pa.) amendment that would direct the Energy Department to consider the infrastructure challenges to arise from the advancement of hydrogen fuel (2007 house Roll Call 84)
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Advanced Fuels Research and Development Act (H.R. 547)/Rep. Charles Dent (R-Pa.) amendment that would direct the Energy Department to consider the infrastructure challenges to arise from the advancement of hydrogen fuel
house Roll Call 84     Feb 08, 2007
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Loss

This vote was on an amendment to legislation that would authorize $10 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency to research how to make alternative fuels more compatible with the nations existing petroleum-based fuel infrastructure. The amendment would direct the Energy Department to consider the infrastructure challenges to arise from the advancement of hydrogen fuel.

The underlying legislation that this amendment tried to modify directs the federal government to help retailers make the infrastructure changes necessary to transition to biofuels. The bill would instruct the EPA to investigate additives and other technologies to ease such issues. The legislation would also direct the agency to develop a way to test the sulfur content of low-sulfur diesel fuel at fuel stations to make sure it complies with the needs of new low-sulfur diesel engines.

Dent's amendment sought, in his words, "to acknowledge and address the infrastructure challenges that will be presented by the advancement of hydrogen fuel, which can be made from a variety of feedstocks, including biomass." It would direct the Energy secretary, in consultation with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, to consider the challenges for design, reforming storage, handling and dispensing hydrogen fuel from various feedstocks.

"As we address the important infrastructure challenges raised by the promotion of biofuels and ultra-low sulfur diesel, I also believe it is incumbent upon us to start paving the way for the hydrogen economy," Dent said. "These are consistent technologies that are complementary and that promote alternative development."

Opponents of the amendment, most of whom were Democrats, maintained that it was outside the scope of legislation dealing with the infrastructure implications of biofuels and low-sulfur diesel.

"The gentleman from Pennsylvania's amendment, in contrast, deals with problems of containing hydrogen, a fuel now derived from natural gas rather than biomass, and distributing it if and when hydrogen vehicles become available," said Rep. Nick Lampson (D-Texas). "Hydrogen would require a new distribution infrastructure. So while the amendment uses similar words related to distribution, it is talking about an entirely new generation of distribution technology."

Lampson added that while it is possible that hydrogen could eventually be developed from biomass, "it is not today."

Dent replied that biomass can be used in the production of hydrogen. "Again, as you develop an infrastructure for biomass and biodiesel, developing one for hydrogen is just as essential," he continued.

Despite the opposition from the much of the Democratic majority, Dent's amendment was passed with 38 Democratic supporters. Eight Republicans voted against it. Thus, on a vote of 226 to 201, legislation to direct the EPA to help develop the technology to facilitate the implementation of biofuels and low-sulfur diesel was amended to include a provision directing research into the infrastructure needs of hydrogen fuel.

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