|LOS ANGELES - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger dedicated a pioneering hydrogen fueling station last week, calling it the first stop in a "hydrogen highway" that would someday stretch across the nation's most populous state as drivers switch to the cleaner-burning fuel.|
Schwarzenegger rolled into the station at Los Angeles International Airport in a metallic blue prototype hydrogen-powered Hummer loaned to California by General Motors Corp. as a promotional tool.
Schwarzenegger, who famously drove the first Hummer designed for civilian use, had pledged to convert the gas-guzzling sports utility vehicle to hydrogen power and build the nation's first network of stations where drivers could fill up on the clean-burning fuel.
"We will not just dream about the hydrogen highway or hydrogen fueling stations. We will not just dream about hydrogen cars," he said. "We will build them."
Schwarzenegger, who in April signed an executive order creating a partnership to build a network of hydrogen stations across California by 2010, said he wanted to end the "chicken and egg debate" in the industry over which would come first -- fueling stops or cars to use them.
Though there are other hydrogen fueling stations in the state, the one dedicated last week was built to resemble the gas stations that Californians already frequent.
Officials say the station will initially serve a small fleet of hydrogen-powered cars used at the airport but will open for business to the public within five to ten years.
Dave Barthmuss, a GM spokesman, said that automakers consider cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells their "Holy Grail," since they would release only water as emissions and could end America's dependence on foreign oil.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE