HB 174Underground Injection Fund

The FIR from this bill reveals that despite multiple legislative defeats, in 2022, this administration has been moving ahead with hydrogen development without regard for those defeats and the united, massive opposition from the environmental community.

Unbeknownst to most, the NM Environment Dept. has been devoting resources to building capacity to respond to federal hydrogen funding opportunities for Hydrogen production. Despite absolutely no evidence that carbon sequestration can work, NMED has been conducting research and supporting pilot sequestration projects throughout the state. and now is seeking federal designation for having primacy enforcement authority over the regulation of injection wells used for sequestration of C02. The HB 174 Fiscal Impact Report (FIR) states clearly that NM has been advancing pilot carbon sequestration projects, despite multiple legislative rejections of hydrogen production:

EMNRD has begun the process of applying for primacy enforcement authority. According to the agency’s analysis,
“The development of an underground injection control (UIC) Class VI program and the process of obtaining approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a significant undertaking. In addition, while federal grants have been obtained for the existing UIC program, these grants have not proved sufficient to handle the large increase in UIC applications in recent years. As a result, OCD has a backlog of applications, inspections and enforcement, and the EPA has raised questions about OCD’s ability to
administer the UIC programs it has already been delegated.”

EMNRD is focused on moving through the EPA process for obtaining Class VI primacy but is wary of the feedback it is already receiving from the federal government. Not only does New Mexico have to demonstrate its ability to meet the regulatory requirements under the federal Safe
Drinking Water Act, but it must also demonstrate the ability to continually support such a program in future years. According to EMNRD,

HB 174 Fiscal Impact Report. p.2 and 3

NM EMNRD and OCD will certainly not be able to point to its rigorous regulation of produced water spills or methane leaks, as evidence of NM’s capacity to regulate much of anything. as their inspection process is virtually non-existent for produced water leaks and methane releases. Retake has repeatedly blogged about the state’s failure to hire sufficient staffing to regulate what is already their responsibility to regulate, inspect and, as indicated, collect fines. Given utter lack of regulatory enforcement already demonstrated in relation to penalties for water discharges, which occur an average of 4 per day or almost 1500 per year, with only 1-2 actual penalties in four years, it feels like NM EMNRD should be more focused on shoring up their regulation of toxic water spills and methane leaks, rather than launching on a quixotic venture demanding rigorous enforcement. The odds are not in our favor that we will succeed in this new venture. A spill of any sort or a malfunction in sequestration drilling could contaminate an entire aquifer.

There is good reason reason why Retake was joined by so many other enviro organizations in opposing hydrogen production. The research done by Renewable Taos, New Energy Economy and Retake make clear, the carbon sequestration process that is central to hydrogen projects meeting their economic and environmental goals has never worked at anything like the scale needed for hydrogen production to be viable. An inconvenient truth outlined clearly in this research summary. Yet despite this mountain of evidence calling into question the, the state’s Hydrogen “Fact Sheet.”

Note how the NMED’s “Fact Sheet” is replete with unsubstantiated assertions and assumptions, with absolutely no research offered to validate those assumptions. Retake’s research summary includes 12 citations so that legislators and constituents can verify our assertions. I have given a copy of our research to both the Secretary of the Environment, James Kinney and to the Secretary of Energy, Minerals & Natural Resources, Sara Cotrell- Propst with handwritten notes asking for their reaction. Thus far, no response. I wonder why. Check out NMED’s Fact sheet and compare it with the summary done by Retake.

Speaking Points

In writing to your legislator or offering public comment, please use the following points.

  • There is no market or hydrogen fueled trucking, one of the anticipated markets for NM hydrogen. With state, federal, and private investments, a robust network of EV charging stations is being developed to support trucking and private vehicles. Virtually no such investment has been made in hydrogen fueling stations. 
  • Tim Baxter, a senior researcher with the Australian Climate Council, reported that he was not aware of a single large carbon capture and storage project linked to fossil fuels in the world that had delivered on time, on budget, and captured the agreed amount of carbon.[3] This is very big deal. His assertion is validated by the U.S. experience. Of $2.66 billion spent by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) since 2010 to develop advanced fossil energy technologies, nearly half was dedicated to nine carbon capture and storage P(CCS) demonstration projects. Only three major projects remained active at the end of FY17 and cost the DOE a combined $615 million.[1] Check them out:
    • Petra Nova Carbon Capture Project, USA: Received $190 million in public funding and cost over $1 billion. The CCS technology at Petra Nova required so much energy that NRG built a separate gas plant—the emissions of which were not offset by the Petra Nova technology—just to power the scrubber. NRG, the plant’s major investor, said CCS couldn’t compete because of its reliance on volatile O&G markets. The government lost all its investment, as did other investors.
    • Mississippi Power’s Kemper Project, USA: The project was supposed to cost $2.4 billion but the cost ballooned by 212.5 percent to $7.5 billion, $270 million of which came from the DOE, without ever actually coming online. Mississippi Power’s ratepayers and taxpayers were stuck with the bill.[2]
    • Many other CCS projects were abandoned for financial reasons, despite large amounts of public funding, among them the Antelope Valley Project, USA, ($400 million in public funding), the Sweeny Gasification Project, USA, ($3 million in public funding) and numerous international projects.
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