The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
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Biden Administration Urged to Ditch Planned Hydrogen Investments

A nationwide coalition of more than 180 conservation, Indigenous, faith, labor and social justice organizations urged the Biden administration today to scrap plans to rapidly expand investment in the production and use of hydrogen. The U.S. Department of Energy is championing hydrogen as a supposed climate solution despite the heavy reliance of fossil fuels in its production.

“Calling hydrogen clean energy is a scam to prop up the oil and gas industry,” said Silas Grant, a campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Biden administration’s plans to expand this dirty energy will only increase oil and gas extraction at a time when the climate emergency demands the opposite. We need investment in affordable, reliable, community-supported renewable energy like wind and solar.”

In its letter to the Department of Energy, the coalition said a large-scale buildout of hydrogen infrastructure will intensify the climate emergency by emitting greenhouse gases and increase pollution in frontline communities. Ninety-five percent of hydrogen produced today is made from fossil fuels, and hydrogen production emits even more smog-causing nitrogen oxide when combusted than methane, threatening public health.

“Deployment of massive hydrogen hubs is a distraction from real climate action that will cause more pollution, more strain on water resources, and more extraction of climate warming fossil fuels,” said Jim Walsh, policy director with Food & Water Watch. “President Biden can’t claim to be a climate leader while his administration continues to embrace the hydrogen climate scam and other policies that continue to perpetuate fossil fuel production and infrastructure.”

Frontline communities and groups concerned about pipeline safety have also raised concerns about hydrogen transportation. Hydrogen burns hotter than gas and is more combustible and corrosive to pipelines, meaning that even small ruptures can cause explosions. All forms of hydrogen use vast quantities of water, which make it an unsustainable source of energy especially in drought-stricken regions.

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 reviewing funding applications from states for hydrogen hubs and is expected to announce its decision this fall.

“Corporations and utility monopolies are buying out politicians to continue business as usual,” said Maya Pontón Aronoff, policy fellow with the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition. “And despite the shiny new name and new technology, a massive build-out of hydrogen and hydrogen pipelines in disproportionately impacted communities is the definition of business as usual. These hubs will hurt people and call it justice. It’s time to take a stand for future generations and break this vicious cycle.”

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

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