Hydrogen investments in New Mexico

SANTA FE, NM (AP) — New Mexico state lawmakers will consider public incentives aimed at encouraging investment in hydrogen production and distribution as a potential new source of industrial employment and as an alternative to vehicles and factories that rely on climate-warming fossil fuels Fuels are instructed to tighten The Legislature meets next week.

Democratic Representative Patricia Lundstrom of Gallup, the House of Representatives’ lead budget negotiator, said Wednesday she will introduce a bill in the coming weeks aimed at allocating money to public-private partnerships for hydrogen projects.

New Mexico has joined forces with Wyoming, Utah and Colorado to compete for a portion of federal funds earmarked to support regional hydrogen centers that would increase hydrogen production and distribution. The secretaries of state in the state cabinet provided an update to a legislative panel at the state capitol on Wednesday.

Lundstrom says their initiative aims to give New Mexico a competitive edge when it comes to attracting government and private investment.

“The state government would put money in a pot that could be used in conjunction with private sector projects for expansion,” Lundstrom said. “We see (hydrogen) as a bridge fuel to meet our renewable energy standards.”

A similar proposal by Lundstrom stalled last year amid scathing criticism from environmentalists who fear the impact of producing hydrogen from natural gas, a process that produces greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide. They say hydrogen production can prolong dependence on fossil fuels and worry about plans to store carbon pollution underground.

Democratic State Representative Nathan Small of Las Cruces and state environmental agencies stressed that recent federal legislation favors cleaner methods of hydrogen projects. He said state incentives for hydrogen production would vastly overshadow anything New Mexico could contribute.

The climate legislation signed into law by President Joe Biden last year offers a tax credit intended to make clean hydrogen more competitive. The federal infrastructure law of 2021 earmarked $8 billion for the US Department of Energy to fund regional hubs.

Lawmakers are desperate for new job opportunities as New Mexico is reeling from recent coal-fired shutdowns amid efforts to combat climate change by calls for more carbon-free power sources.

Hydrogen could theoretically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, depending on how it’s obtained.

Most commercially produced hydrogen in the US comes from natural gas, which emits the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane.

Hydrogen can also be obtained using electricity from wind, solar or other means that produce little or no emissions that contribute to global warming. When used in a fuel cell, such “clean hydrogen” only releases water as a by-product.