Senator touts OSU research, renewable energy

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U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown talks with OSU Center for Automotive Research director Giorgio Rizzoni
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown talks with OSU Center for Automotive Research director Giorgio Rizzoni

Students working at the Center for Automotive Research compete against other universities in an annual contest to convert a traditional SUV into a fuel-efficient hybrid. The center also operates the Buckeye Bullet, the world’s first hydrogen-powered race car. Student John Kruckenberg works at the center.

“Hydrogen is an alternative fuel that’s a possibility for the future, so it’s important for us to develop it and show how it can be used,” Kruckenberg says.

And there’s more alternative fuel work going on around the state. Senator Brown pointed to wind turban research in Toledo, as well as a decision by a German solar company to build their U.S. headquarters in Cleveland. He says Ohio is becoming known as the Silicon Valley of alternative energy. But he says Washington lacks the same desire. He urges federal lawmakers to follow Ohio’s lead.

“We need to get much more serious in Washington, as individual entrepreneurs have here in Ohio,” Brown says. “We need to get more serious in Washington on a Manhattan-style project on alternative energy.”

Parts of that plan would include higher efficiency standards for new cars and buildings, increased funding for scientific research, and changes to tax law to encourage investors. What Brown says would not encourage investors is an increase in the gas tax. The National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission Tuesday released a report recommending tax increases of up to forty cents a gallon over the next five years. But Brown describes oil prices as already oppressive, and says gas tax hikes would only hurt business growth.

“So many businesses depend so much on energy for transportation, for industrial processes, that we’ve got to bring the cost of energy down before we think of a carbon tax or any kind of gas tax like that,” Brown says.

Brown says Congress will soon consider his energy plan and possible tax law changes. He hopes to get his proposal through the House and Senate within the next two months.

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