For Immediate Release, June 13, 2023
Soni Grant, Center for Biological Diversity, (312) 286-9511, firstname.lastname@example.org
Biden Administration Urged to Reject Hydrogen Hubs
New Mexico Coalition Raises Climate, Environmental Justice Concerns
ALBUQUERQUE/TIWA TERRITORY, N.M.— A coalition of Indigenous, climate, environmental justice and youth advocates urged the Department of Energy today to reject funding for the Western Interstate Hydrogen Hub, which is intended to rapidly expand hydrogen production in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
“Our BIPOC, low-income and youth communities are already facing the brunt of the climate crisis,” said Ennedith Lopez, policy campaign manager at Youth United for Climate Crisis Action. “By doubling down on hydrogen instead of true renewables like solar and wind, the WISHH project will exacerbate these inequities even further. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Biden administration are actively ignoring the pleas of environmental justice communities to reject false solutions. Instead of enforcing the environmentally racist practices that got us here in the first place, Gov. Lujan Grisham and President Biden need to declare a climate emergency now and invest heavily in real solutions.”
The Biden administration and the fossil fuel industry are championing hydrogen as a climate-friendly energy source, a move that threatens to perpetuate fossil fuel extraction and delay the country’s transition to clean, renewable power. In its letter, the New Mexico No False Solutions coalition called on the administration to reverse course and deny all hydrogen hub proposals across the country.
“It’s unacceptable that the Biden administration and states like New Mexico are promoting hydrogen and carbon capture, which will only increase oil and gas extraction at a time when the climate emergency demands the opposite,” said Soni Grant, a campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Hydrogen is another bait and switch from an administration that continues to break its promises to aggressively tackle climate change and help communities achieve a just, equitable transition to renewable energy."
More than 99% of hydrogen produced today uses fossil fuels in a process that harms human health and emits carbon dioxide. When combusted, hydrogen releases six times more smog-causing nitrogen oxide into the air than methane, leading to respiratory and other health problems. Hydrogen is also an indirect greenhouse gas that extends the life of methane in the atmosphere. Compared to gas, it is more likely to explode, burns hotter and is more corrosive to pipelines.
“The development of a hydrogen economy will not resolve our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Alejandría Lyons, coordinator of the New Mexico No False Solutions Coalition. “The WISHH project and other large-scale hydrogen hubs will create a public safety crisis. It has been the work of climate justice groups across the country to highlight this issue of over funding an under-researched technology.”
Coalition members will share their concerns about hydrogen with the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council during a public meeting this evening in Phoenix.
“It’s disgraceful and disrespectful to the work of environmental justice communities, who fought for these federal initiatives, to see Justice40 funding being redirected to support false solutions such as WISHH,” said Sofia Martinez, co-coordinator of Los Jardines Institute. “It flies in the face of those who have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of working-class people, Indigenous rights holders and people of color.”
The Biden administration is investing $7 billion to develop 10 regional clusters of hydrogen production, transportation and use under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The Energy Department is currently reviewing applications for funding, including from the Western Interstate Hydrogen Hub. In April the group applied for $1.25 billion in federal funds. It would encompass eight hydrogen projects, with at least one in each of the four states.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.