Politics

Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma’s hydrogen hub plans may not be all they’re cracked up to be

Still, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma see this as an opportunity to secure some funding and move forward with at least an alternative to their rampant production of fossil fuels. “We believe that creating as many end-use cases for commercialization with as many private partners is the quickest and best mechanism to spur real demand for this clean energy,” Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said. “The resources and opportunities in Oklahoma are complementary to our partners and tailor-made for a diverse hub application to compete with others around the country.” What the three governors don’t say is they stand to receive millions from the funds allocated by the Biden administration as part of the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act. Approximately $8 billion has been allocated to go toward hydrogen hubs in particular and the Department of Energy has extended its deadline for applications until March 21.

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Two other hydrogen hub projects have been proposed, reports the Associated PressColorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming entered into a similar partnership in February and announced their intentions to create a hydrogen hub in the Rocky Mountain region. The utility company SoCalGas unveiled its own proposal for a hydrogen hub in the Los Angeles Basin earlier this month, touting an ambitious goal of reaching net-zero by 2045 and claiming that hydrogen would play a critical role in hitting that milestone.  As Verchick notes, given the slim return of investment in carbon capture—which is critical to cleaner hydrogen production—states would be better off investing in technologies being explored in Europe, such as making chemicals like ammonia without the use of high heat, which could effectively make the compound much less damaging.

Plus, Verchick adds, the oversight simply hasn’t historically been there. “The last legislative audit found that [Louisiana’s] agency did not sufficiently monitor [injection] wells. It did not sufficiently inspect those facilities. And it did not go after known violators,” Verchick said. “And so how do you, even if you believe in the technology, even if you’re willing to spend the money, how do you get past that problem? If you don’t have state agencies that are actively monitoring and inspecting and going after those violators, none of this works at all.”




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