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Quick Hits: Driving On Water


Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

Gas stations are going green.

Okay, maybe not all gas stations. But the West Coast's first retail hydrogen fueling station opened in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Amid a row of pumps spewing out regular gas for $4.59 per gallon, this Shell (RDS-B) station boasts one special pump that produces and dispenses hydrogen fuel. Hydrogen, made from natural gases and water, has surfaced as one of the newest environmentally-friendly alternatives to gasoline.

In an attempt to stay afloat in a sea of climate change, soaring gas prices and consumer bitterness, a handful of car manufacturers have begun producing hydrogen-powered vehicles. The cars emit water vapor, instead of exhaust - a big part of their hype.

So how do you get your hands on one of these H2O bad boys? That's the downside: They're not available to the public just yet. General Motors (GM) has only released 80 of its Chevrolet Equinox hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as part of a market test. BMW has lent out several Hydrogen 7 Series sedans, although these have fallen exclusively into celebrity hands. And Honda (HMC) will soon lease 200 FCX Clarity fuel-cell cars - for $600 a month.

This plan isn't without its drawbacks. "Making hydrogen from natural gas doesn't solve your fossil fuel-global warming problem," Joseph Romm, author of The Hype About Hydrogen, told NPR. "You still end up with greenhouse gas: carbon dioxide."

Even if the H2O cars do prove greener than their gas-guzzling counterparts, the hippiest of the hippies will likely find the $600,000 price tag on the Chevrolet Equinox a bit steep.

A world that runs on Evian rather than Exxon (XOM) is inching closer, but it isn't here yet.

For more on alternative energy, check out Hoofy and Boo's always astute report:
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