Car makers have belabored the near-total lack of availability and distribution channels of most alternative fuels to the point of exhaustion. They are simply stating the obvious when they point out that hydrogen-fueled cars will not become a reality until a fuel supply network is in place. And although it can seem like something of a 'chicken and the egg' argument, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm is moving to make the state a leader in building an alternative fuel infrastructure.

Whether you think the car has to come before there can be any demand for the fuel - and thus people willing to build the station - or the fuel has to come first so people can actually go places with their alternative-fueled cars, its clear that neither will work well without the other. So the inklings of a new plan captured during a discussion between Gov. Granholm, Ford CEO Alan Mulally and UAW President Ron Gettelfinger at Ford's stand in Cobo Center this morning could be the birth of both the chicken and the egg - or at least cooperation between industry and government in building both, reports The Detroit News.

While it's a nice idea to think that state governments could build networks for distribution and help subsidize outlets for retail purchase of alternative fuels such as hydrogen, it's not such a nice idea to imagine a state-owned fuel consortium that effectively holds a monopoly. Gov. Granholm interestingly anticipates such fears, and attempts to allay them by phrasing the potential governmental involvement in the alternative fuel arena in terms of 'partnering' to 'reduce costs and make them viable,' noting that 'you don't want government dictating solutions.' In addition to hydrogen, improved networks for distribution of ethanol and diesel as well as research into the viability of plug-in hybrids are under consideration.

Though it is just a conversation - nothing is before the Michigan legislature on the subject - and we all know how politicians and corporations like to talk big and deliver little, it's a promising conversation, and one we hope continues. And maybe even one day, bears fruit.