Groups Worry About New Mexico Governor's Hydrogen Hub Plan

They say the development of hydrogen risks incentivizing new oil and natural gas fields.

In this July 29, 2021, file photo New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks at a news conference in Santa Fe, N.M. Grisham is returning to the podium next week at an annual gathering of oil executives. She's also contemplating attendance at the U.N. Climate Conference in Scotland in November, internal emails show.
In this July 29, 2021, file photo New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks at a news conference in Santa Fe, N.M. Grisham is returning to the podium next week at an annual gathering of oil executives. She's also contemplating attendance at the U.N. Climate Conference in Scotland in November, internal emails show.
AP Photo/Morgan Lee, File

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A coalition of environmental groups are raising concerns about Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's plans to turn New Mexico into a hydrogen fuel hub.

The Democrat, who is running for reelection, has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions at least 45% by 2030 as compared to 2005 levels.

The Natural Resource Defense Council, the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center and two dozen other organizations argue in a letter sent Tuesday to the governor and other top elected officials that large-scale development of hydrogen risks incentivizing new oil and natural gas fields.

Hydrogen fuel cells can power vehicles to reduce transportation emissions, but most energy used to produce hydrogen comes from natural gas. Some are hopeful that hydrogen can be produced by using electricity generated from solar or wind power to separate hydrogen and oxygen in water.

However, the letter warns of excessive water use in a state where the commodity is already scarce.

The groups urged the governor to focus on wind and solar energy instead.

Lujan Grisham has expressed interest in speaking at a climate change conference next month. Earlier this year, she asked Biden to exempt oil and gas producers in New Mexico from a drilling moratorium.

In a speech this week to oil and gas executives, Lujan Grisham invited them to join her in partnerships for hydrogen production in the coming decades.

The U.S. Energy Department in July allocated more than $50 million to a number of projects in support of the agency's hydrogen initiative.

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