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By Mark Moran - Producer-Editor, Contact - New

 

Big Sky Connection - Montana and other states will receive nearly $1 billion as part of the Biden administration's hydrogen production hub program. Clean-energy advocates say the hubs will be beneficial if they rely on renewable energy but worry about implementation. Comments from Anne Hedges, director, of legislative and policy affairs, Montana Environmental Information Center.

Click on the image above for the audio. Hydrogen is a clean fuel that, when consumed in a fuel cell, produces only water. Hydrogen can be produced from a variety of domestic resources, such as natural gas, nuclear power, biomass, and renewable power such as solar and wind, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. (Adobe Stock)

Mark Moran

October 26, 2023 - The Biden administration has announced investments in a hydrogen hub to produce energy in the Northwest, including in Montana.

Clean-energy advocates say it could be a huge benefit to the region, but add there are potential pitfalls with its implementation.

The Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub - which includes Montana - plans to leverage the region's renewable resources to produce clean hydrogen from those renewables.

Anne Hedges, director of legislative and policy affairs for the Helena-based Montana Environmental Information Center, said the hydrogen hub will be most useful in sectors that have historically been hard to move away from fossil fuels and the carbon they emit.

"Which are a lot of your heavy industries," said Hedges, "heavy transportation aviation, ships, things that are not just residential use or small commercial."

The Pacific Northwest hub is one of seven regional hubs the Biden administration has proposed across the country and is part of the $8 billion nationwide Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs Program.

While cautiously optimistic, supporters have said the technology is still very new and questions remain over installation.

Hedges said most of those questions center on whether creating an environmentally friendly fuel source would wind up harming the environment in the process.

The hub program calls for industry to ween off of fossil fuels during the transition, which Hedges said could defeat the whole purpose, at least early on.

"This is a lot of money that might not reach the goals that we need," said Hedges. "Especially since it looks like some of this money is going into prolonging our reliance on methane gas. And so, we're... we're a little nervous. "

Once it's complete, the administration says the hydrogen hub will create as many as 350 permanent jobs.

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