Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez and Councilman Mitch O’Farrell introduced a motion Friday to have the city submit a proposal to the U.S. Department of Energy to have the Los Angeles area be considered for a regional “Green Hydrogen Hub” to power hard-to-electrify industries with renewable energy.
The motion comes after the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, passed last year, included $8 billion for at least four regional Hydrogen Hubs across the U.S. that will be overseen by the U.S. Department of Energy.
“The DOE is looking for diverse regional Hydrogen Hubs that focus on different types of hydrogen production, end uses, job creations and innovations,” the motion stated. “Based on the existing infrastructure, our vast renewable energy portfolio, our skilled labor force, our renowned university system, essential transportation corridors, the largest municipally owned utility in the nation and the busiest container port in North America, the greater Los Angeles Metropolitan Area is well suited to be a leader in this effort.”
While the federal government is seeking Hydrogen Hubs, Los Angeles is working to transition to a 100% renewable energy grid by 2035. The motion notes that hydrogen energy could also further the Port of Los Angeles’ goals of using 100% zero emission technology in its operations.
“Green hydrogen distribution in and around the port complex could accelerate industry adoption of clean equipment and limit air pollution emissions,” the motion said.
However, environmental protection activists with Food & Water Watch Los Angeles announced their opposition to the motion Friday afternoon, calling hydrogen “a smokescreen for fossil fuel development in the guise of clean energy.”
While the council members’ motion calls for its potential hub to produce “green hydrogen,” which is created using electrolysis of water, another type of hydrogen, called “blue hydrogen,” is produced through natural gas in a process that emits methane and carbon dioxide.
Food & Water Watch Los Angeles is opposed to green hydrogen, as well, noting that it requires 9 kilograms of water for every 1 kilogram of hydrogen produced, and the Los Angeles area is in the midst of a mega-drought that a recent UCLA study found to be the worst in 1,200 years.
“Hydrogen is being used by fossil fuel interests to maintain their dangerous pipeline and energy infrastructure, propping up a system of dirty fossil fuels like fracked gas. Climate justice advocates have made it crystal clear that hydrogen does not belong at L.A.’s power plants and hydrogen with no safeguards against fossil fuel development or biofuels is unacceptable,” Food & Water Watch Los Angeles Senior Organizer Jasmin Vargas said.
“This motion is a betrayal of Los Angeles communities who deserve equitable, accessible energy solutions and not costly, energy-intensive, water-intensive scams like this ‘green’ hydrogen proposal.”
The motion introduced Friday also calls for the city to ensure that the green hydrogen is made only from renewable sources, and for researchers to evaluate the use of green hydrogen to ensure it doesn’t have adverse impacts on the environment or frontline communities.
The motion would also:
— have the DWP and the Port of Los Angeles collaborate with the Climate Emergency Mobilization Office as an effort to avoid impact on frontline communities if a federal grant application is successful;
— have the DWP work with the Bureau of Sanitation and the Port of Los Angeles to report to the City Council on recommendations on the usage of advanced treated water from the Bureau of Sanitation’s Advanced Water Purification Facility at the Terminal Island Water Reclamation Plant to supply water for the projects if the city’s application is successful; and
— have the Bureau of Sanitation, the DWP and the Port of Los Angeles report on monitoring nitrogen oxide and other emissions if the application is successful.