State Assembly Committee Holds Hearing to Discuss Hydrogen Implementation Across California 

Food & Water Watch and others call for caution when considering hydrogen as a climate solution

Published Apr 3, 2024


Climate and Energy

Food & Water Watch and others call for caution when considering hydrogen as a climate solution

Food & Water Watch and others call for caution when considering hydrogen as a climate solution

Sacramento – Earlier today the Select Committee on Building a Zero-Carbon Hydrogen Economy held a hearing in Sacramento to further discuss the implementation of hydrogen production across the state. California leaders are currently considering if hydrogen is a viable solution for meeting the state’s ambitious climate goals and ending the reliance on fossil fuels. 

This is also part of the larger national push to bolster hydrogen production, with the Department of Energy calling for 50 million metric tonnes of hydrogen production each year by 2025, and announcing billions of dollars to fund a series of hydrogen “hubs” across the United States, with California being one of the recipients of said funds. 

However, despite hopes that hydrogen is a potential solution to provide clean energy to California, even in hard to reach sectors, hydrogen is not the answer. Hydrogen production is incredibly water intensive, produces noxious pollutants at rates even higher than natural gas and actually entrenches the fossil fuel industry. And equally concerningly, Gov. Newsom signed onto a letter from earlier this year asking for California’s hydrogen “hub”, ARCHES, to be exempt from federal regulations. 

Andrea Vega, Southern California Senior Organizer, said, “We should think twice about implementing as massive a hydrogen infrastructure buildout as a climate solution. Further, the fossil fuel industry’s refusal to have federal regulations imposed on them should alarm lawmakers. Governor Newsom backing ARCHES’s demand to be exempt from proposed federal regulation guidelines is deeply irresponsible, especially as research emerges showing the threats hydrogen poses to our climate and communities. 

“Indeed, Food & Water Watch’s research has shown how introducing hydrogen to the notoriously leaky natural gas system would be disastrous, increasing the risk of deadly explosions for residential and commercial users. It also poses major health and safety risks for those living near hydrogen production facilities and would drive up the cost for ratepayers who will be forced to pay for expensive hydrogen adaptations to existing gas infrastructure. Further, producing hydrogen requires an incredible amount of water, which is dangerous for a state already experiencing historic drought and extreme weather due in large part to the damage caused by dirty fuels. A clean, renewable energy future is possible for California through electrification, renewables and efficiency, not hydrogen.” 

Faith Myhra, Organizing Member with Protect Playa Now said, “The fact that SoCalGas intends to maintain the hazardous Playa del Rey methane facility for hydrogen storage is alarming. Even more troubling is the possibility that it may not adhere to the highest regulations and standards. This fills me with deep concern for our community’s safety.” 

Marcia Hanscom, Community Organizer, Ballona Institute said, “This committee starts out with a false assumption. ‘Zero-Carbon Hydrogen’ is not possible for most of the uses planned for utilizing Hydrogen (H); there is a requirement to mix H with at least 70% methane gas, for powering up electricity plants, for instance.  Using methane gas must be stopped as soon as possible.

“Governor Newsom’s EPA Secretary said just last week that ‘methane is a pollutant 25x more potent than CO2.’ It would be a better use of the time of these legislators to focus on the genuine renewable energy sources we know already work and stop transporting methane gas into our state. Focus on stopping injection and storage of methane gas into facilities at Aliso Canyon and the Ballona Wetlands – the only state ecological reserve in Los Angeles County.”

Robert J. van de Hoek, Environmental Scientist & Biologist said, “A ‘Zero-Carbon Hydrogen Economy’ is a pipe dream, based on experimental science. We don’t have time for experiments. We need to focus on rooftop solar and other genuine renewable energy sources that are already lowering California’s reliance on fossil fuels.”

Press Contact: Madeline Bove [email protected]