Views on the Proposed "Hydrogen Fuel Development and Use Act of 1979"

EMD-80-B3: Published: Feb 21, 1980. Publicly Released: Feb 21, 1980.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reported on H.R. 5399, the Hydrogen Fuel Development and Use Act of 1979. The bill would create a comprehensive goal-oriented hydrogen research, development, and demonstration program managed by the Department of Energy and would amend the Internal Revenue Code to provide financial incentives to encourage the production and use of hydrogen fuel. Although GAO agreed that research and development of hydrogen fuels and associated energy systems should be pursued, it was believed that passage of the bill might place undue emphasis on developing hydrogen fuels as a major source of energy. The bill mandates a number of specific commercial demonstrations by January 1, 1985. A mandate of this nature would tend to set the demonstrations apart from the normal budgetary review procedures and lock DOE into specific commercial demonstrations, some of which may not be appropriate in 1985. The language of the bill places little or no restriction on the type of primary energy source used to produce hydrogen and/or what systems or facilities would qualify for Government support. Such incentives could conceivably encourage the use of technologies which are not technically sound. Language was suggested that would authorize GAO access to records of the program in the event that the Congress chooses to pass the legislation.

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