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Bush to visit California next weekend: Stops include a tour of a W. Sac fuel cell center on Earth Day.
[April 15, 2006]

Bush to visit California next weekend: Stops include a tour of a W. Sac fuel cell center on Earth Day.


(Sacramento Bee, The (CA) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Apr. 15--WASHINGTON - President Bush heads next weekend to California, where he will celebrate Earth Day on Saturday with a tour of the California Fuel Cell Partnership in West Sacramento.



It will be the president's first visit to the Sacramento area since his appearance at Memorial Auditorium in 2001.

Bush is scheduled to arrive Friday in San Jose, where he will participate in a discussion at Cisco Systems Inc. on his initiative to increase the country's competitiveness in technology development.


After the Saturday afternoon tour of the West Sacramento fuel cell center, Bush travels to Southern California, where he will attend a National Republican Committee fundraiser at the Toscana Country Club in Palm Springs.

On Sunday, Bush will attend church and have lunch with military families at the Marine Corps Air Combat Center at Twentynine Palms.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's press secretary, Margita Thompson, said that the Governor's Office and the White House were still trying to arrange a time when the two leaders might meet. "All parties are trying to make it happen," she said.

Environmentalists were amused by Bush's decision to tour the fuel cell center on the 36th annual observation of Earth Day, a celebration of global environmental protection.

Nathanael Greene, a senior policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York City, called the West Sacramento stop "a fig leaf to cover up the emperor's nakedness" on the environment.

Greene said the Bush administration's 2007 request for $150 million for research into biofuels, which could be used by fuel cells to power pollution-free cars and trucks in the future, is $350 million a year less than what Congress authorized last year.

"It is disappointing for someone who spoke so eloquently in his State of the Union speech about our addiction to oil and what that means for national security," Greene said.

The West Sacramento facility is home to a partnership of 31 oil companies, car manufacturers and government agencies promoting the commercialization of hydrogen-power vehicles. The partnership's facilities include prototype cars, a hydrogen refueling station and vehicle maintenance areas. It is not a research center or production plant. According to its Web site, at least some of its vehicles will be on display at an Earth Day event at the California State University, Sacramento, campus.

Chris White, the partnership's communications director, declined to answer any questions Friday, saying she had been instructed to direct reporters to the White House.

Alex Conant, a White House spokesman, said the only information he could release was that the president will be participating in the tour "and will make some remarks on advanced transportation technology."

Among those who will appear with the president is Rep. John Doolittle, R-Roseville. Doolittle sponsored the California Hydrogen Infrastructure Project that received $5 million to speed development of nonpolluting hydrogen-powered cars.

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