Monday, October 30, 2006

Schwarzenegger: BMW to Bring in Hydrogen Car in 2007

This is a clip from the only debate which was held between Phil Angelides and Arnold Schwarzenegger in which the governor was asked, "As gasoline prices rise, what policies do you think are most important to address California's transportation problems and how would you pay for them?" . Phil Angelides accepted eight invitations to debate. Arnold Schwarzenegger accepted one. This clip makes it obvious why.

Schwarzenegger's response is intellectually derisible. "We must do exactly what we've been doing for the last three years which is to come up with alternative fuel." In the radically car dependent metropolis of Los Angeles, out of the thousands of fueling stations which exist, I don't know of a single one which dispenses an alternative fuel. Nor can this vast lack of supply be expected to change soon.

He then claims that BMW, Honda, and Toyota will have hydrogen cars in California in 2007. It is not clear if he is claiming that these cars will be commercially available or exist as prototypes to test the technology. "Honda and Toyota is working on an engine for 2007, they will have cars in here."

Such manufacturers are already leasing prototypes in the U.S., cars which cost $1 million to make, and California is in the process of building 100 hydrogen fueling stations by 2010. However, these efforts will help very little as a solution to the transportation needs of 38 million Californians over the next several years.

Schwarzenegger states that it is "inexcusable that people have to pay up to $4.00 a gallon." If indeed we are trapped in a relentless cycle of rollercoaster, yet inevitably escalating gas prices as the data suggest, Californians will be paying $4.00 per gallon of gasoline within the next two years. According to a survey conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California in the middle of July when gas hovered around $3.25 per gallon, 67% of Californians claimed that gas prices had caused them or their household financial hardship.

What can we say to the millions of Californians who will see themselves economically challenged by the inevitable surge in gasoline prices? Buy a hydrogen car!

Angelides was far more comprehensive and reality based in his response. He called for clean fuels, like Arnold, but also discussed a smart growth plan that would enable Californians to commute less, with jobs near housing, walkable, transit oriented neighborhoods, and a strong land use policy.

The follow up question posed by the moderator concerning high speed rail was completely ignored by Schwarzenegger, but his final comment is revealing of the transformation which he has recently undergone from right wing activist to a nearly middle of the political spectrum politician who is leadable. Given more time to learn as a governor and to grow as a person he may eventually become as good or as mediocre(your choice) as Gray Davis once was.

"There's a difference between Arnold Schwarzenegger and me," claims Angelides. Yes, one candidate is way smarter than the other one.

Proposition 1B which Schwarzenegger discussed, provides a modest sum of $4 billion for mass transit, with an additional $1 billion going to improve security and disaster preparedness of mass transit systems.


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