Appalachian groups are calling for a pause on the hydrogen hub

(The Center Square) – As the federal government sets aside billions of dollars to build hydrogen hubs, a coalition of several states has sent a letter to the Department of Energy demanding the Appalachian project be halted until officials are more transparent with public.

“I really can’t emphasize how few safeguards there are,” said Tom Torres, hydrogen campaign coordinator at the Ohio River Valley Institute and author of the letter. “The job for policymakers is to ask some really tough questions about what are valuable investments, what people in the region deserve and what are alternative development pathways that can give people a much better return on their investments.”

The institute and 53 other environmental and community groups argued in their letter that the department has offered “little public information” about the planned Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub (ARCH2) that would create a hydrogen-based production and production network using the region’s natural gas.

The group criticized the ministry for giving the public “no substantive opportunity to shape this proposal while negotiations continue behind closed doors” and accused officials of advancing the interchange with little regard to community opposition or the impact of pollution.

The junction will be concentrated in West Virginia, but extend to Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, supported by nearly $1 billion in federal funds. Further state-specific funds or tax credits could also play a role.

Before hub planning moves forward, environmental groups want to pause and reconsider.

The letter calls for greater public disclosure of project information detailing activities, public health impacts and government subsidies; more public involvement allowing citizens to “make real decision-making during the negotiation process”; and suspending hub negotiations until these demands are met.

“It blows our mind to think that the federal government has allocated almost a billion dollars to a project – and there is no substantive overview of planned operations, locations, timelines, pipeline infrastructure, that there is nothing on the table,” Torres said. said.

However, taking a break from the project can be an uphill battle. Although some Senate Democrats in Pennsylvania are concerned about the hubs serve as a handout for private industryRepublicans have done that embraced the hubs as a way forward, both economically and environmentally.

U.S. Senator Bob Casey has been, too hub supporturging President Biden to ensure that federal hydrogen tax credits would apply to natural gas and coal mine methane in Pennsylvania.

Industry leaders, including the Marcellus Shale Coalition, argued that a pause on the hydrogen hub would be foolish.

“Cutting Appalachia’s hydrogen hub ambitions is short-sighted and ignores the tremendous promise the hub holds for our region’s economic and environmental progress,” said Coalition Chairman Dave Callahan. “Pennsylvania has the cleanest natural gas resources in the country, a key feedstock for hydrogen production that is critical to decarbonizing vital economic sectors and scaling low-carbon fuel across the country.

The development of one or more approved hydrogen hubs across the Commonwealth provides a next-generation opportunity to use our resource-driven competitive advantage to secure a prosperous and sustainable energy future.”

While much has been said about the economic potential of hydrogen hubs, a key part of their emissions reduction strategy remains unproven.

Carbon capture, where CO2 emissions are stored underground instead of released into the atmosphere, is a much-touted feature of the hubs. But critics warn against it depend on taxpayer subsidies. Even proponents admit that carbon capture is happening “Would be highly dependent on support from the federal government.”

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