The Hydrogen Hub has been resurrected and tucked into HB 227 Public Peace, Health, Safety & Welfare, a dummy bill. You can find the bill language in a committee substitute bill. Nathan Small immediately jumped in to pronounce it new and improved and aligned with all fed regulations, which were derived to allow unfettered use of fossil fuels. While ever so slightly improving an offensive bill still leaves you with a terrible bill, advancing that terrible idea in such a devious way should offend anyone who even remotely believes in the legislative process. Prepare to be furious.
Hydrogen Hub Subterfuge
After hearing withering public comment in opposition to HB 4 Hydrogen Hub, fueled by strong concerns about the economic and environmental viability of hydrogen and the disingenuous effort to describe “clean” hydrogen as something that emits megatons of GHGs, members of House Energy, Environment & Natural Resources reiterated those concerns before voting to table the bill on Jan 28. Most often such a tabling kills a bill.
But while we and others anticipated that a dummy bill would be introduced, no one could possibly have anticipated it coming in such a brazen manner. The way this bill was introduced offends the legislative process and is patently designed to avoid legitimate, legislative and constituent review. Let’s take a look.
- HB 227 was introduced on Feb. 2, under the benign title “Public Peace, Health, Safety & Welfare” i.e., a “dummy bill.” If you clicked on the content, it was empty, so no clue of anything.
- Then on Saturday afternoon (Feb. 5), the committee substitute was published and it contained the entire HB 4 Hydrogen Hub language with a few minor changes… It gets worse.
- Within minutes of the sub being published, Speaker Egolf assigned the bill to just one committee hearing, and he could not have picked a committee less likely to offer legitimate scrutiny: House Appropriations and Finance, a committee chaired with an iron fist by Rep. Lundstrom, the sponsor of HB 227.
- If that were not enough, the hearing was instantly scheduled for Monday, Feb. 7, with the hearing published on NMlegis.gov, but with no Zoom link to join the hearing and offer public comment, making it impossible for groups like Retake, Sierra Club, and others to get out the word.
- The hearing announcement noted that the hearing would begin at the “Call of the Chair after the floor session,” and that a Zoom link would be published Monday morning. Thanks a lot.
There is simply no way you could construct this to so obviously avoid legitimate legislative review or constituent engagement. Clearly leadership on this understands that their bill can’t stand up to scrutiny, so they decided to just skip that. I reached out to Rep. McQueen, Chair of House EENR, which tabled the bill. He does not generally publicly criticize leadership, but he offered this for attribution:
“I’m very concerned that the new bill appears to be bypassing not only the House Energy Committee but also the House Taxation & Revenue Committee, where the original HB 4 was slated to be heard.”Rep. Matthew McQueen, D
Camilla Feibelman, Sierra Club, promised to have her entire coalition at HAFC on Monday, I am guessing by Zoom, if they ever publish the link. I wish I believed that 200, 500, or even 10,000 constituents would make any difference in House Appropriations & Finance (HAFC). I have spent too much time in HAFC hearings and I doubt if Chair Lundstrom has ever had a single Dem. vote opposing her position on anything, let alone a bill for which she is sponsor.
Certainly we want to call and email HAFC members (contact info below) to make sure they understand we are paying attention, and our Alert tonight or tomorrow morning will encourage you to offer public comment (once we have a Zoom link!). But our best chance of stopping this train will be on the House Floor, and we need to start right now by calling, texting, and emailing your House Rep. Most importantly, we need those of you who have a pre-existing relationship with your House Rep. to send a personal message or call and generate a dialog with the aim of encouraging your Rep. not just to vote NO on this, but to talk to their peers to ask them to do the same.
As bad as the Hydrogen Hub is (and it it very bad), this devious skirting of a legitimate legislative process is worse.
You can use our one-page summary on HB 227 — the arguments remain the same as for HB 4. And in communication with Reps., it is worth sharing a link to this critique. Our main points are:
- The Hydrogen Hub Act is not a climate bill; it is a fossil fuel bill.
- The Hydrogen Hub Act (whether HB 4 or HB 227) defines “clean hydrogen” as emitting megatons of GHGs. That is just not clean.
- To achieve its goals, HB 227 relies on “offsets” that require the use of unproven carbon capture technology, something that has never been achieved.
- Scientific reviews show that blue hydrogen (the kind called for in HB227) emits more GHGs than coal.
- HB 227 is such a bad idea that leadership feels the only way to pass it into law is to use a process that skirts legitimate legislative review.
- We demand that Speaker Egolf add committee assignments for hearings of HB 227 in House Energy, Environment & Natural Resources and House Taxation & Revenue, the original committee assignments for HB 4.
- We seek withdrawal of all Hydrogen Hub legislation and perhaps the introduction of a bill to authorize a study of the climate impacts and potential economic risks and benefits of hydrogen technology.
The process to date has been riddled with misinformation, half truths and now with a slight of hand unworthy of Democratic leadership (large D, but certainly not small d).
If you are a member of an Indivisible, a Democratic Party Caucus, or a Dem Party precinct or ward, please share this with your members. This will not be easy; we need all hands on deck.
In solidarity and hope,
Paul & Roxanne