A Wyoming lawmaker wonders if “maybe there weren’t some politics involved” in leaving Wyoming out of a $7 billion initiative build a network of large hydrogen energy hubs across the United States.
State Rep. Don Burkhart, R-Rawlins, who co-chairs the Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee, said he thinks the U.S. Department of Energy “made a huge mistake” by leaving the Western Interstate Hydrogen Hub off its list.
The WIHB is a regional effort with Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico to build a $1.25 billion hydrogen facility.
The DOE announced Friday that it’s chosen seven projects from California to New Jersey to be regional clean energy hydrogen hubs to “accelerate the commercial-scale deployment of low-cost, clean hydrogen.”
That WIHB isn’t part of that network is “a disappointment,” Burkhart said.
Was It Politics?
Just because Wyoming is a strong fossil fuels state doesn’t mean it also isn’t a national leader in other energy resources, Burkhart said.
But he wonders if the Cowboy State’s reputation for being pro-coal and pro-oil and gas didn’t factor into being left out of a key energy plan pushed by the Biden administration.
“I can’t say that for sure, but it sure looks like that to me,” Burkhart said. “It’s more of the Biden administration’s war on the West and any state that doesn’t produce the energy he wants.”
He said Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico will still have to be involved at some point.
“Just look at a map and Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah pretty much control all the east-west flow of pipelines,” he said. “They’re going to have to pipe this everywhere.”
Burkhart isn’t the only one disappointed with the decision.
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon told Cowboy State Daily that the state will continue to pursue it’s “all-of-the-above” energy strategy.
“While we are disappointed in the U.S. Department of Energy’s decision, we remain strong in our commitment,” Gordon said in an email. “Wyoming is proud to be an energy-producing state, exporting over 90% of the energy we produce, and we will continue to collaborate with our neighbors Colorado, New Mexico and Utah on this work.”
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis also promised continued support for the states’ effort to build the Western Interstate Hydrogen Hub.
“Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming remain highly enthusiastic about the nation’s ongoing transition toward a cleaner energy source and will continue to actively seek opportunities that support the widespread adoption of hydrogen and facilitate the energy transition within the region,” he said in a statement. “Hydrogen plays a crucial role in driving sustainable economic growth, reducing carbon emissions, and creating new jobs.”
Do It Anyway
Burkart said not getting the $1.25 billion from the federal government doesn’t mean the WIHB is dead, which was echoed by both governors.
It also can be a blessing in disguise, because federal money often comes with a lot of hoops to jump through, he said.
“You can’t win them all,” he said. “Maybe it’s not with Department of Energy money, but there might be private money involved. With federal money, you also get the federal strings and tentacles. This may be someplace private entities may shine.
“This isn’t the end of Wyoming pursuing hydrogen, it’s just one aspect,” Burkhart continued. “I know some companies are looking to produce hydrogen from natural gas and coal. I would think there will be companies that will still take advantage of this.”