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Apr 01, 2008 - 12:00 PM

Arnold's fake green glow

by Carmen Balber
Here's another story that casts a shadow on Governor Schwarzenegger's green sheen. Arnold got his first national attention as a green machine when he signed an executive order to create a "Hydrogen Highway" across California. The promise was to have hydrogen fueling stations up and down the state by 2010. The gov promoted his plan by pretending to pump hydrogen into borrowed cars -- once at LAX where a retrofitted hydrogen Hummer that didn't actually work made the TV cameras happy. Arnold's career as an environmental crusader was off and running.

Only problem is, Arnold's hydrogen highway was a little more vision than reality. The Mercury News reports today that the governor's hydrogen program hasn't created a single new fueling station.

Four years ago this month, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order to create a "hydrogen highway" -- a network of hydrogen fueling stations where California motorists could fill up fuel cell cars that release no smog, only water vapor.

"Hundreds of hydrogen fueling stations will be built," Schwarzenegger vowed, as TV cameras rolled. "And these stations will be used by thousands of hydrogen-powered cars and trucks and buses. This starts a new era for clean California transportation."

The issue became an environmental hallmark of his governorship. But today, not a single hydrogen fueling station has been built under the program.

In February, the state Legislative Analyst's Office, a non-partisan agency, recommended the Legislature not fund the program this year because "the administration has little visible progress to show."

Critics on both sides are throwing blame -- some say the environmentalists put too many restrictions on how the hydrogen is produced; others that energy corporations are dragging their feet because there aren't enough hydrogen cars out there.

Whatever the cause, the failure of Arnold's 'Hydrogen Highway' is another vaunted Schwarzenegger environmental initiative that's more smoke than fire. He seems to be more interested in the accolades that come with being considered an environmental champion, than the results that come from serious programs and the commitment to see them through. This certainly isn't the first time that ArnoldWatch has taken note of the gov's environmental promises falling apart at the seams.

Couldn't have anything to do with the millions he's taken from the oil industry? Replacing gas with hydrogen isn't likely to be at the top of their birthday list.

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