Washington, DC: In response to the Biden-Harris administration announcing seven finalists for federal support to build regional hydrogen hubs — a program created and funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law — the League of Conservation Voters, Chispa TX, and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania issued the following statements:
“While we applaud the Biden administration’s many significant efforts to build a clean energy economy, we strongly oppose any efforts to build out hydrogen that relies on fossil fuels, undermines better pathways for decarbonization, fails to support high-quality union jobs, or does not meaningfully engage impacted communities,” said Matthew Davis Vice President of Federal Policy, League of Conservation Voters. “Most importantly, hydrogen must not be used to justify the expansion or extend the life of fossil fuel infrastructure, including pipelines, nor prolong or exacerbate pollution and safety risks in already overburdened environmental justice communities.
Today’s early stage announcement raises concerns and questions and we will press the Department of Energy to improve the project plans and provide more clarity to impacted communities. Green hydrogen, powered by new renewable electricity and with other important protections, holds promise for certain hard to decarbonize and difficult to electrify sectors. DOE should improve the proposals so that nearly all their hydrogen produced is truly green, and the Treasury must ensure that only truly green hydrogen qualifies for the most generous tax incentives.”
“Chispa Texas is extremely disappointed with today’s hydrogen hubs announcement” said Elida Castillo, Program Director, Chispa Texas. “While we appreciate an acknowledgement of the climate crisis, we cannot support initiatives that benefit the same industries that got us here and for questionable emissions reductions. Our frontline communities, who already bear the brunt of the costs to our health and environment, should be the recipients of that $7 billion instead – Congress misdirected these taxpayer dollars.
Texas is experiencing a severe multi year drought and the consistent failure of the energy grid, so to place a hydrogen project that requires lots of water and electricity anywhere in the state is a flawed decision. We encourage the DOE to model the community engagement process in the community benefits plan before any of these projects begin construction. Host listening sessions with the proposed communities on the projects, require these industries to pay their fair share in taxes instead of going to local entities for tax abatements, and limit the exportation of hydrogen to new markets, among other necessary protections for communities. We have seen this story hawked before when the industry was promoting fracked methane gas (LNG), and now we are experiencing the hurtful repercussions. We cannot allow this history to repeat itself. There are many better ways to tackle the climate crisis and that starts with listening to instead of harming our already overburdened frontline communities.”
“The policymaking process involves the balancing of competing priorities and Conservation Voters of PA understands and respects that reality,” said Molly Parzen Executive Director, Conservation Voters of PA. “As the announced regional hydrogen hubs are built and prepared to be brought online, we reiterate the need for the local, state, and federal regulations to better ensure the health and safety of the communities in which these hubs will be sited and the workers who will build them.
Every step in the process of developing statutes and rules to regulate the hydrogen sector and the permitting process for hubs and associated facilities, must be public, open and transparent. Furthermore, any discussion regarding associated pipelines must — this cannot be emphasized strongly enough — start at the local level in the affected communities.
Communities that have been impacted by past acts of environmental injustice must be given priority when establishing the necessary regulatory framework for this emerging sector. And we must work with our friends in the Labor movement to ensure an emphasis on the creation of family sustaining union jobs.
While new and emerging technology like hydrogen can be effective with some hard to decarbonize industries, its use is just one small part of the overall strategy we need to fight climate change.
Throughout the balance of this process, Conservation Voters of PA looks forward to working with local, state, and federal policy makers to vigorously protect Pennsylvanians’ constitutional right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic values of the environment.”