We oppose HB 174 and NM’s “All Hydrogen, All the Time”
“All Hydrogen, all the time” is the mantra of James Kinney and the NM Environment Dept of which he is Secretary. No wonder his dept hasn’t the resources to inspect and protect.
We lost track of how many iterations of hydrogen bills were rejected by the legislature last year, but clearly the message didn’t percolate to the 4th Floor, as the Governor and her administration have been “all hydrogen, all the time,” using executive orders and federal funds instead of legislative approval to launch the state into the hydrogen hub fiasco. Now we have HB 174 Underground Injection Fund.
What is HB 174?
House Bill 174 proposes amending Section 74-6 NMSA 1978, also known as the “Water Quality Act,” to include a new section that creates the “underground injection control fund” at the State Treasury. The fund is to be administered by the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) and would be used to carry out a statewide underground injection control program. Money in the fund would be disbursed from the Department of Finance and Administration pursuant to vouchers signed by the Secretary of EMNRD. The bill seeks $1M a year to hire staff and consultants to advance the work. HB 174 Fiscal Impact Report states clearly that NM has been advancing pilot carbon sequestration projects, despite multiple legislative rejections of hydrogen production. This bill is intended to institutionalize state funding for hydrogen development and facilitate NM in securing federal funds to expand the work.
Why Do We Oppose HB 174?
The grant is intended to help the state develop and regulate more injection wells in NM. There are several things wrong with this plan:
- NM EMNRD and the Oil Conservation Division(OCD) have a strong track record of not regulating methane or produced water spills. Why should we believe they would do so with injection wells?
- Investing state funds in hydrogen production and the injection wells needed to support it are doomed to failure, as there is no evidence that carbon sequestration can work at the scale required to make hydrogen production environmentally or economically feasible. It will fail, and the feds, the state, and its investors will lose their investments. Please see our footnoted research on carbon sequestration.
- The minimal research justifying hydrogen production was produced by the gas and oil industry to justify creating a market for their toxic products. We must say no to fossil fuels.
- Our opposition is fueled by our well-grounded convictions that this work is doomed to failure, stranded assets, and perhaps damaged aquifers. But it is also driven by our desire to call out and oppose an administration that advances work that has been soundly rejected by the legislature and the people.
- As reported in a recent EPA study, injection wells pose a serious threat to our aquifer, no small problem.
- The Fiscal Impact Report (FIR) for HB 174 reveals that despite multiple legislative defeats in 2022, and despite no evidence that carbon sequestration can work, this administration has been moving ahead with hydrogen development without regard for those defeats and the united, massive opposition from the environmental community, and with this bill they seek $1M in recurring funding to support ongoing injection work and to secure a legislative seal of approval for continued hydrogen development.
We need to say no. Loud and clear. Vote “NO” on HB 174.