Fuel-cell vehicles are a long way off, reports The Washington Times. Cost, fuel availability, and consumer skepticism remain major obstacles. This is yet another reason why Congress should end subsidies for alternative energy technologies.

Introducing the five-year, $1.2 billion Hydrogen Fuel Initiative in 2003, President Bush promised that federal subsidies would “speed up” development. But that narrative had more plot holes than Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Technologies such as wind, solar, and ethanol have failed to become cost-effective despite more than 30 years of generous federal aid. Not surprisingly, one of the Initiative’s key goals—making hydrogen cost-competitive with gasoline by 2010—likely isn’t going to happen.

Also, the technology doesn’t need subsidies. Fuel cells are already used in industrial applications, and every major car company is exploring the technology. One entrepreneur is introducing fuels cells in everyday applications to win over consumers and then using the proceeds to fund more research. This is the kind of creative, realistic approach that government could never envisage. Washington’s “energy plan” amounts to throwing tax dollars at special interests and promising arbitrary timelines for achieving “energy independence.”

Meanwhile, Congress wants to raise taxes on the only energy sources that can meet America’s current needs—oil and natural gas. Congress should remove obstacles to conventional energy sources and leave alternative technologies to the private sector.