On Feb. 23, 2022, the governors of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming entered into a memorandum of understanding (“MOU”) to develop the Western Inter-State Clean Hydrogen Hub. Hydrogen is viewed as an essential component of the clean energy transition, but its broad development has been stymied by logistical hurdles, cost and the lack of well-developed transportation markets for hydrogen fuel cells. The 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Pub. Law 117-58, attempts to solve this conundrum by providing $8 billion to develop regional clean hydrogen hubs. The future Western Inter-State Clean Hydrogen Hub will draw on that funding.
In the MOU, the states agreed to jointly develop a proposal for the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) for a regional clean hydrogen hub. The states further agreed to work with their respective academic, research, industry and community partners and stakeholders to ensure the joint proposal creates economic growth and jobs, incorporates the latest research and provides opportunities for R&D collaboration, protects disadvantaged communities and addresses pipeline safety, water use and air emissions concerns.
Currently, most hydrogen is produced through steam methane reform of natural gas. However, in its press release, DOE supports hydrogen production through electrolysis, using electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen molecules. If the electricity is generated using solar, wind or other clean sources, the hydrogen produced is known as “green” because of its low greenhouse gas emissions. The MOU does not commit to a generation method and implicitly recognizes the range of hydrogen production opportunities available in these states. It cites the states’ extensive wind, solar, biomass and other energy resources, as well as the region’s abundant oil and natural gas industry and existing transportation infrastructure.
As with other carbon mitigation efforts, scale and cost present challenges to widespread hydrogen production. In the arid West, this will mean overcoming permitting obstacles, balancing environmental justice considerations, and building transportation infrastructure to reach growing markets. Our attorneys and policy advisors are plugged into the rapidly developing hydrogen economy and would be happy to answer any questions your company may have about hydrogen projects.
This document is intended to provide you with general information regarding the Western Inter-State Clean Hydrogen Hub. The contents of this document are not intended to provide specific legal advice. If you have any questions about the contents of this document or if you need legal advice as to an issue, please contact the attorneys listed or your regular Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP attorney. This communication may be considered advertising in some jurisdictions. The information in this article is accurate as of the publication date. Because the law in this area is changing rapidly, and insights are not automatically updated, continued accuracy cannot be guaranteed.