In amongst all the angst over Iraq in the annual State of the Union address, President George Dubya Bush also set out a £1.2bn plan to make America less dependent on Middle Eastern oil. The cars of the future, he said, would be hydrogen-powered. Of course, a hydrogen-powered SUV is still the same size as a petrol-powered SUV and 'clean fuel' technology will do nothing to halt the US descent into gridlock

Gridlock 2020 will be hydrogen-powered

The man who snubs the world on environmental issues – dissing the Kyoto accords, for instance – wants the world to join him on a foray into Iraq. Regime-change in Iraq is not just a war about securing access to oil but in yesterday’s State of the Union address, President Bush clearly telegraphed that the USA of the future needs to be less reliant on fuel from unstable regions of the world.

His address banged on about the need for disarming Saddam Hussein but, away from the headlines, also contained a missive on the environment.

"Our goal is to promote energy independence for our country, while dramatically improving the environment," said Dubya.

"I have sent [Congress] a comprehensive energy plan to promote energy efficiency and conservation, to develop cleaner technology, and to produce more energy at home.

"I urge [Congress] to pass these measures, for the good of both our environment and our economy.

"Even more, I ask [Congress] take a crucial step, and protect our environment in ways that generations before us could not have imagined.

"In this century, the greatest environmental progress will come about, not through endless lawsuits or command and control regulations, but through technology and innovation.

"Tonight I am proposing $1.2bn in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles.

"A simple chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen generates energy, which can be used to power a car – producing only water, not exhaust fumes.

"With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom – so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free.

"Join me in this important innovation – to make our air significantly cleaner, and our country much less dependent on foreign sources of energy."

No mention of bicycles, of course, but integrating bikes into US urban life would need city re-engineering on a Kamenesque-scale. Hydrogen-powered Segway, anybody?

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