Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Hydrogen and Transportation Conference
June 16, 2003

Thank you, Mike [Lawrence, Associate Laboratory Director for Energy, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory] for that kind introduction.

I want to welcome all of you to this exciting conference. And a special welcome to Steve Chalk of the U.S. Department of Energy and the national Hydrogen Fuel Initiative. We know you have many competing invitations and are particularly pleased that you are here.

I would also like to thank Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Northwest Energy Technology Collaborative for organizing this timely and important meeting. The emerging “hydrogen economy” is truly a win-win-win proposition. It holds enormous promise for helping us meet our critical transportation needs; It can fulfill these needs in an environmentally sustainable and energy-efficient manner; And it will also create economic opportunity and jobs for Washington and the Northwest.

A good transportation system is critical to the livelihood and well being of our citizens. Motorists want to spend less time in traffic and more time with their families. Manufacturers and farmers want their goods at the market, not stuck on our roads and highways. Our citizens and businesses need a top-notch transportation system. We cannot afford to give them any less.

Here in Washington, we are focused on renewing our transportation system. I recently signed bi-partisan legislation that increases transportation spending nearly $4.2 billion over the next 10 years. This package will build and expand highway lanes and interchanges. It will make our highways safer and reduce commute times. It will help get freight to market more quickly over improved highways and rail lines. And it will provide commuters with transit, rail and other alternatives to driving. This transportation package puts us on the road to a brighter economic future.

But we must not exchange one problem for another. We must ensure that our economic future is also environmentally sustainable. That means finding transportation solutions that minimize the burden on the environment. By turning hydrogen into energy with only water vapor as a byproduct, fuel cells are an enormously attractive and environmentally friendly energy technology. And as I am sure you will discuss later in the day, the challenge we face is to extract the hydrogen to run those fuel cells in an environmentally sustainable manner. Finding such a solution will ensure that the entire hydrogen fuel cycle is environmentally sustainable, climate friendly, and economically attractive.

I was proud to sign legislation this year that directs state government agencies to consider the use of fuel cells in their own operations. In Washington, we have many remote areas that are far from any electric grid. We have data centers and medical facilities that require uninterruptible and secure energy sources, both for primary and back-up power. So fuel cells have the potential to help state government do its job better -- and in a way that protects the environment of our beautiful state.

Developing these technologies can also be a boon to our regional economy. We have leading fuel cell pioneers right here, such as Avista Labs in Spokane, InnovaTek in Richland, and Ballard Power Systems in Vancouver. We have leading transportation companies such as Boeing, PACCAR, and Freightliner, who are potential launch customers for these products. And the Northwest Energy Technology Collaborative is devoted to helping make Washington and the Northwest leaders in sustainable energy. I want to thank the member organizations of the collaborative for their dedication: the Bonneville Power Administration, INTEC, Puget Sound Energy, Avista, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, SIRTI, the Washington Technology Center, and our own Department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development. Working together, we can become leaders in the “hydrogen economy.”

Today’s conference is a major step forward in bringing that vision to reality. Have a stimulating and productive conference.

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