When Exxon is the Standard for Climate Action, You Have Problems

Mirroring the proposed climate goal from our Governor, Exxon announced its plan to reach Net Zero by 2050. Plus updates on new bills and on the Hydrogen Hub.

Legislative Strategy Huddle Zoom, Weds, January 19, 6-7pm. We’ll be joined by Sen. Bill Soules, discussing how the Senate will operate during the session and the bills he will be advancing. Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero will talk about the Public Banking Act, Small Loan Rate Cap, and more bills she is sponsoring. Former Rep. Abbas Akhil will offer insight into the proposed Hydrogen Hub bill and a few other bills of interest. And Bill Jordan from NM Voices for Children will discuss the Social Security and GRT tax cut bills. Guests will answer questions from attendees as time allows. With all these great guests, we may run a bit over! Legislative Huddles are every Weds., 6-7 p.m. Please join us. Click here to register. You must register to participate.

Exxon pledges net-zero carbon emissions from operations by 2050

Exxon and our governor must operate from the same climate playbook. As CNBC summarizes Exxon’s commitment to curbing emissions:

  • “Exxon Mobil on Tuesday pledged to cut to zero its net carbon emissions from its global operations by 2050, catching up with rivals who are minimizing their carbon footprints.” Note the term “net” emissions, a term our Governor is a fond of. HB6 Clean Future Act, introduced by Rep. Nathan Small and Speaker Brian Egolf, would force NM Minerals, Energy and Environment Dept. to report annually on emissions statewide, but the commitment to achieve net zero is full of references to “offset credits” that can be used to “pay” for “direct” emissions that exceed the net zero target. I guess methane isn’t harmful if it’s offset by some fancy projection for future emissions containment, or by planting some trees.
  • Exxon’s 2050 plan covers emissions from its oil, gas, and chemical production, and from the power those operations consume, so-called scope 1 and 2 targets. It made no commitment for emissions from consumers using those products. (It get’s better, or more ironic — funny aside — When I typed ‘more ironic,’ my pc autocorrected to “moronic,” an apt correction.) Here again Exxon borrows from MLG’s playbook in not counting emissions incurred from use of their products, just as NM doesn’t count emissions caused by others burning NM fossil fuels. Exxon and MLG may be clever with numbers, but climate doesn’t care about offsets and net zero. It reflects melting ice caps and rising seas, i.e. the real world.

Hydrogen Hype Begins in Earnest

Yesterday I was given a copy of MLG’s draft Hydrogen Incentive Bill, the proposed tax credits for hydrogen development (read: fossil fuel giveaways). It was sent out by the Energy & Economic Diversification Manager of the Energy Conservation and Management Division of New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. They are seeking stakeholder input. Info below, but first let’s look at the draft bill itself. It begins by defining who is eligible for tax credits

A taxpayer who is not a dependent of another taxpayer and who holds an interest in a carbon-negative hydrogen production facility, a clean hydrogen production
facility, a qualified hydrogen production facility or a hydrogen electric generating facility.

draft Hydrogen Incentive Bill, p.1

Naturally, this tax credit must be couched in terms like “carbon negative,” or even false terminology like “clean hydrogen,” so at first blush all seems fine. But, as the accompanying chart describes, as obtusely as possible, “negative” doesn’t really mean “negative” and “clean” isn’t remotely close to “clean.” Scan the chart quickly, but then you’ll need our analysis of the bill language to understand it.

Typically a chart is used to simplify or clarify narrative terms, not be entirely dependent on that narrative for the chart to make sense. Alas, this is MLG 2022.

The bill goes on to define Carbon intensity or CI: “Carbon intensity means the quantity of carbon dioxide equivalent emitted as determined through a lifecycle analysis as expressed in kilograms of carbon dioxide.” So, “clean” hydrogen can be measured by the number of kilograms of CO2 released. It is only by the time you get to the last row of the chart that you achieve zero emission hydrogen. Before you get there, there are all kinds of tax incentives for “clean” hydrogen producers emitting tons of CO2 (that would be NM Oil & Gas Assoc. – NMOGA).

How exactly is “clean hydrogen” defined?

“clean hydrogen” means:(a) hydrogen produced with a carbon intensity equal to or less than two kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilogram of hydrogen produced;

draft Hydrogen Incentive Bill,

Many problems here in just one sentence. “Clean” is measured by how many kilograms of carbon you release. And costs covered by tax credits include “carbon dioxide capture, treatment, compression, transportation and sequestration.” Never mind that despite billions in investments, sequestration of carbon has never been accomplished at scale, let’s waste some more money and reward the fossil fuel industry again. NM can afford it. There is much more in the bill draft itself, increasingly obtuse, but on close examination, offensive.

Click download below to read the full bill. And definitely weigh in with Energy Conservation Mgmt. Division (ECMD). By commenting, the word will get to MLG that Dem. voters are not stupid.

I’d suggest being polite but firm with something like: The way you’ve defined “clean” allows, even encourages, production of far too much C02 to be considered “clean.” Instead of tax credits to reward investment in failed technology, let’s invest in something proven: renewables that are really clean.

(The image below is from the pdf. Just click “Download” below for the whole draft.)

ECMD is asking stakeholders for any comments they have on the Draft Hydrogen Incentive Bill to be submitted to hydrogen.feedback@state.nm.us. While there isn’t a deadline for comments, it would be best to receive comments before the initial hearing of the bill. They may not see you as a stakeholder, as their stakeholders are typically PNM and NMOGA, but we have a stake in this game, too. So let’em have it.

In solidarity and hope,

Paul & Roxanne

P.S. We will try to continue providing substantive posts like this 3-4 times a week. But frankly, I am finding that time spent on Zooms with allies and legislators is so important and effective, that has become the focus of our work of late. So watch for Alerts (one was just sent this morning) and we’ll try to keep you informed and ready to raise your voices. If you didn’t get an Alert this morning, you are not signed up. Please sign up by clicking the red “Get Action Alerts” button on our home page and stay engaged in this Roundhouse session. There is so much at stake.

Hope to see you tonight when we Huddle up with Sen. Soules, Rep. Roybal Caballero, former Rep. Abbas Akhil, and Bill Jordan (Voices for Children). Onward!!!

Categories: Climate Justice, Uncategorized

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3 replies

  1. Welcome to New mEXXico, where politicians sacrifice people, land, water and cultures to big oil & gas..

  2. Re your suggestion our letters should be polite but firm: so I guess extreme sarcasm would be proscribed?

    Thank you for a most informative post.

  3. I hope you’ll review the Water Advocates legislative agenda—why the qualifications should be changed for OSE, other changes to water governance, funding various staffing at water-related agencies, collaborative and equitable water sharing, revisiting Rio Grande water compact and more. Staffing and data collection is at levels of Martinez admin and we are running out of water! http://www.mrgwa.org

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