George W. Bushs $1.2 billion plan to develop cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells was eliminated by President Barack Obama on Thursday, saving taxpayers $100 million a year.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the government preferred to target more immediate energy-saving solutions.
The probability of deploying hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in the next 10 to 20 years is low, Energy Department spokesman Tom Welch said in an interview today.
Welch cited the immense cost of developing an infrastructure of hydrogen pipelines and fueling stations for the cars. He also said there were technical obstacles to producing hydrogen and storing it in vehicles.
Obamas fiscal 2010 budget proposal calls for $68.2 million to be spent on fuel-cell technologies, down from $169.0 million last year, Welch said. The savings comes from cancellation of funds for the vehicles development.
The Energy Department will continue to pay for research into stationary fuel cells that could be used for non-automotive purposes, he said.
In his 2003 State of the Union address, Bush proposed spending $1.2 billion to develop hydrogen-powered automobiles.
With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom, so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free, Bush said.
The Bush administration spent more than $500 million on research into producing and distributing hydrogen so it could be used in cars powered by fuel cells.
After Bushs speech, Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, said the plan was too small to make much of a difference.
This was window-dressing pure and simple, Clapp said in 2003.