Emission-free hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (HFCVs) fueled by clean energy-hydrogen could play an important role in the decarbonization of the transportation system in the United States. This is especially so because HFCVs can be fully refueled in three to five minutes, and their range reaches 300 miles or more per tank refill. Moreover, their range does not degrade in extreme temperatures, so they may be better suited than battery electric vehicles to extreme environments and long distance travel.
Two of the most significant barriers to the public’s acceptance of HFCVs are their cost and the scarcity of refueling stations. The attached model statutes seeks to address these issues. First, it would offer state rebates for the purchase of new HFCVs, which would be available for a ten year period. In addition, the model statute would provide state support for the development of a network of equitably located hydrogen refueling stations, with preference given to locations along heavily traveled corridors. The statute does not specify the amount of either the vehicle rebate or the network development subsidy, since the legislature of the enacting state is best suited to fix those amounts in light of the state’s particular fiscal circumstances and sources of available funding.
Under the model statute, the state would fund the vehicle rebates and network development subsidies each year for ten years, devoting 4% of the state’s gasoline excise tax, generally known as the Motor Fuels Tax, or its alternative fuels tax, to doing so. While enacting states may identify other sources of funding, the gasoline excise tax provides one logical funding source because all states impose such a tax, and HFCVs mitigate the harms and health risks associated with internal combustion engine vehicles. Although the statute does not include a provision that would extend the gasoline excise tax to the roadside sale of hydrogen fuel, it is assumed that the legislature may consider doing so in the event it were to subsidize the development of hydrogen refueling stations using the gasoline excise tax as a funding source.