May 11 2006

Graham Introduces H-Prize Legislation in the U.S. Senate

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate creating the H-Prize. The H-Prize is meant to help overcome the technical challenges related to using hydrogen as a widely available and abundant fuel source by offering cash incentives. “As a nation, we need to become less dependent on foreign oil,” said Graham. “It would be irresponsible if 50 years from now we’re still reliant on Middle Eastern oil to drive our national economy. We need to get away from fossil fuels and start looking at using different sources of energy such as hydrogen. The H-Prize will help foster additional research and development in the long-overdue effort to make hydrogen a significant source of our nation’s energy supply.” Graham serves as the co-chair of the Senate Hydrogen Caucus, along with Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND). Dorgan has signed on as the lead Democratic sponsor of the H-Prize legislation in the Senate. “Prices at the gas pump make plain that when it comes to how we use energy ‘yesterday forever’ is not a strategy that works very well,” said Dorgan. “While fossil fuels will always be a part of our energy mix, developing new domestic sources of energy is more important today than it has ever been. The H-Award will provide a powerful incentive for research and advancement in one of the most promising new areas on the horizon – developing hydrogen fuel cells and making them an integral part of our economy.” Graham noted South Carolina is a national leader in hydrogen research. The University of South Carolina is developing hydrogen fuel cells, Clemson is working on hydrogen vehicles, Aiken County has established a Hydrogen Research Center, and the Savannah River Site is a leading research facility in hydrogen storage and technology. These groups and others recently united behind the South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association which coordinates the state’s efforts to be a leading player in the emerging hydrogen economy. The H-Prize is modeled on the Ansari X Prize which last year spurred the first privately funded suborbital human spaceflight. Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation by U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) creating the H-Prize. Awards will be offered in the following categories: Technological Advancement: Four prizes of up to $1 million will be awarded every two years for outstanding achievements in the Production, Storage, Distribution, and Utilization of hydrogen. Prototypes: One prize of up to $4 million will be awarded every two years for working hydrogen vehicle prototypes that meets performance goals. Transformational Technology: Over the next ten years, a single $10 million prize funded by the federal government or private donations for breakthrough hydrogen technologies. The legislation directs the Secretary of Energy to contract with a private foundation or other non-profit entity to establish criteria for the prizes and administer the prize contest. “Hydrogen holds tremendous promise for the future,” said Graham. “The H-Prize is an important step forward in the drive to help our nation become energy independent. I’m proud to be part of this effort in the Senate and appreciate the work done by Congressmen Inglis and Lipinski in creating incentives for the private sector to create hydrogen-based vehicles. The H-Prize is a clear signal from the federal government that we are interested and believe in a hydrogen-based transportation economy. The H-Prize puts our money where our mouth is.” “I’m proud to be the lead Senate co-sponsor of legislation that will spark research and development that can take us to a more secure and stable energy future,” concluded Dorgan. The passage into law last year of the Energy Bill contained more than $3.5 billion in funding over the next 5 years for hydrogen research. The hydrogen provisions in the bill were largely based upon language authored by Graham and Dorgan. #####