Editorial: Bush energy plan needs specific goals

The Bush administration has made a step in the right direction in trying to conserve energy resources through its new program called Freedom Cooperative Automotive Research. However, this program will be ineffective unless given concise limitations, regulations and goals.

The program has the potential to greatly reduce the United States’ dependence on oil but has several problems that need to be addressed. One is the amount of time it will take to develop hydrogen fuel cells on the commercial market. Most auto manufacturers estimate such technology won’t be widely available for another 10 years.

While this is certainly a good prospect, it doesn’t tackle the problem of the development of gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles that continue to be popular and high sellers. SUVs are a major problem, and their fuel efficiency needs to be increased in less than 10 years.

Another problem is the now-replaced Clinton energy plan that helped spurn hybrid vehicles that ran on gasoline and electric energy. This was a good program, and its research should not be abandoned. But with few specific goals and expectations, the plan did little to help reduce fuel usage on a national level.

Bush’s new energy plan is good. Incentives should be offered to automakers and potential consumers so the hydrogen fuel cells, cells that will allow cars to run on a hydrogen fuel and leave only water vapor as a product, are enticing and on demand. New car designs that are more sleek and energy efficient will benefit everyone in the long term, but the short term should not be ignored.

The Bush administration should learn from the Clinton plan, which had good ideas but fell short on clear targets. The new plan could spur the development of cleaner, cheaper automobiles for the future, thus propelling the nation into an era that is void of dependence on other nations and one that is environmentally sensitive.