Supporters tout ‘clean energy’ from hydrogen hubs, but environmental groups criticize



President Joe Biden’s administration believes a series of hydrogen hubs across the country will be the cornerstone of the country’s transition to clean energy.

West Virginia Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito say a hydrogen hub in Appalachia will reduce carbon emissions, tap into the region’s abundant natural gas and create jobs. I see it becoming.

Gov. Jim Justice is excited about the project, but included a caveat that it doesn’t mean West Virginia will turn its back on fossil fuels.

Environmentalists say the natural gas burned to make hydrogen will still result in large emissions, and that carbon capture technologies aimed at storing byproduct emissions underground are unlikely to work at this kind of scale. It warns that it has not been tested.

This is the situation with a large $925 million federal grant announced to start hydrogen hub projects in West Virginia and parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The project, located in Appalachia, will be expanded to several communities in West Virginia and aims to tap into the region’s vast natural gas supplies. Natural gas is used as a feedstock for hydrogen production. The project relies on carbon capture and sequestration to produce hydrogen that is considered clean.

honey may

But calling a project like this “clean” isn’t particularly true, said Honey May, a campaign representative for the Sierra Club of West Virginia.

“The concern is that this is a gas-dependent hydrogen hub, and gas is still a fossil fuel, with all the risks and issues that come with relying on fossil fuels, such as emissions, methane leaks, and health impacts. People will continue to suffer from asthma and lung damage and the problems we see with fossil fuel emissions, but that’s not getting us to where we need to be.”

The focus on natural gas is especially true for our Appalachian locations. Other parts of the country have different structures. For example, a California-based project aims to produce hydrogen exclusively from renewable energy and biomass and decarbonize public transportation, heavy trucking, and port operations.

The site proposed by a coalition of Midwestern states would use nuclear energy in part to supply hydrogen for things such as steel and glass production.

The Appalachian hub will have underground carbon storage facilities as a key element in addressing emissions.

Earlier this year, several West Virginia-based groups called for “a key component of the state’s plan, the regulations governing the use of injection wells, which are key to storing carbon dioxide underground. “We expressed deep concern about the state’s efforts to gain power.”fossil fuel based hydrogen hub. ”

“It’s unproven and it’s expensive,” May said. “This is not a solution that prioritizes the communities it serves.”

Some domestic environmental groups expressed similar concerns. The National Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis says encouraging the construction of projects that will pump millions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere over decades risks making global warming even worse. said.

“Pursuing this technology wastes valuable time and diverts attention from investing in more effective measures to combat global warming, such as wind and solar resources, battery storage, and energy efficiency,” the study said. said David Schlissel, director of resource planning and analysis.

Joe Manchin

Senate Energy Chairman Joe Manchin (R-Va.) expressed excitement that the Appalachian hub will serve as a bridge to clean energy.

“This is a powerful fuel, so I’m saying that I believe how it’s used in the first place is going to help reduce emissions,” Manchin said on Metro News’ “Talkline.” Stated. “It’s a powerful fuel. It promotes combustion that’s clean enough to eliminate emissions compared to relying solely on coal or natural gas. It has a huge number of uses and can be used to generate a steady flow of production. Now that we know there is, we can incorporate it into our energy packages.

“That’s why I’m saying we need to work on technology. We can innovate ways to have a cleaner environment, but we can’t eliminate it. No more coal, no more oil. You can’t say no gas, you can’t do that. You can’t run this country running that. So we’re complementing it through innovation and technology.”

shelley moore capito

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-Virginia, also said the project is a path to cleaner fuels.

“You know, there’s a lot of talk about the use of hydrogen as a bridge to future types of fuels that are cleaner and more environmentally friendly. Hydrogen can be made from all kinds of fuels, both from natural gas and from water. We have other things in mind, but they are not fully developed,” said Capito, ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

“We use natural gas, so we end up using our own energy source, but it really takes us into the energy of the future. That’s what’s interesting about this piece.”

Capito acknowledged that environmental groups will object to the way natural gas is processed and stored.

“There will always be environmental objections,” Capito said, adding that the associated regulations and permits are important to ensuring hydrogen projects move forward.

“But they’re going to object to using natural gas. But I’m going to use natural gas and coal to carry what we know and see around the world to the next bridge.” And I don’t think we’ll ever get it unless we use it to build the next bridge, which has windmills and solar panels.”

Jim Justice

Republican Gov. Jim Justice said he was excited about the hydrogen project, but vowed West Virginia would not turn its back on fossil fuels.

“We are forever in a state of energy. We want to embrace all kinds of energy, all alternatives,” Justice said at a press conference. “But at the same time, we’re never going to forget our coal miners and gas workers, and we’re going to be really proud of our fossil fuels.”

President Joe Biden (

President Biden, who attended the announcement of a hydrogen hub project in Philadelphia, outlined his vision to dramatically reduce emissions. But while Biden said wind and solar could help, he insisted heavy industry still needs traditional fuel sources.

“Clean hydrogen will help us achieve that goal. When it comes to charging our cars and powering our homes, all we need is clean electricity from the sun and wind. , we are doing that,” said Biden, a Democrat.

“But when it comes to making steel, aluminum, and other materials, factories need materials that are processed at temperatures above 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. To do that, they have to burn fuel.

Biden went on to say, “You can’t do that with wind and solar power. You can’t create that much energy. That’s where hydrogen comes in. Hydrogen can power industries like steel and aluminum production. and ultimately transform transportation systems such as trucks, rail, and trains.”

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