Blumenthal part of new group to boost fuel cells

Lawmakers love to establish caucuses with colleagues who share their passions and there are dozens of caucuses  in Congress. They promote everything from bicycles to minor league baseball.

The newest caucus is the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Caucus, formed this week by strange bedfellows — Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, one of the most conservative Republicans in the Senate.

What these senators, and several others who’ve joined the caucus, have in common is that the fuel cell industry is prominent in their states.

Connecticut’s biggest defense contractor, United Technologies, produces fuel cells in a facility in Windsor that employs about 450 people. In addition Fuel Cell Energy has facilities in Torrington and Danbury.

A fuel cell converts hydrogen and oxygen into water and in the process it produces electricity — without  pollution.

“Anything we can do to support the use of fuel cells is a tremendous boost for Connecticut and the nation,” Blumenthal said.”

He said the new caucus will seek greater funding of federal fuel-cell programs and promote grants to the fuel-cell industry.

Besides being “at the core of (Connecticut’s) economy,”  fuel cells are also used to power facilities, such as the Connecticut Science Center in downtown Hartford and businesses like Whole Foods, Blumenthal said