A blue hydrogen hub could be in store for West Virginia

A blue hydrogen hub could be on the horizon for W. Va.
Published: Feb. 12, 2023 at 7:57 PM EST
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Several prominent figures in West Virginia politics are touting the idea of building a blue hydrogen hub in the Appalachian Region.

Among those who have expressed support for a blue hydrogen hub in West Virginia include senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito and Governor Jim Justice.

A blue hydrogen hub would use natural gas to produce hydrogen for use as a clean source of energy. Blue hydrogen proponents argue that it’s a way to create jobs and economic growth in the region and cleanly derive energy from natural gas because its process includes carbon sequestration, or storing carbon before it can be released into the atmosphere.

However, some remain skeptical of blue hydrogen’s promise of clean energy. Eric Engle, who sits on the board of the nonprofit Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action, said existing issues with natural gas extraction won’t go away with a blue hydrogen hub. “The natural gas still has to be recovered through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which is an extremely threatening process to public health and the environment,” Engle said. “Carbon capture and sequestration in and of itself is dangerous, it’s extraordinarily expensive, and it’s not proven at scale.”

Engle also said that the economic benefits of a blue hydrogen hub in the region aren’t guaranteed.

“They’ve talked in the past about an Appalachian Storage Hub, which was about the buildout of plastics and petrochemicals. Now they’re talking about a blue hydrogen hub in the same place, the Ohio River Valley. And every time they talk about a hub they talk about jobs, they talk about tax-based contributions, and those numbers that they promise when they first start talking and passing legislation and making regulations never come to fruition.”

Already this year, two new bills related to using West Virginia state lands for carbon sequestration were swiftly signed into law by Governor Justice.

It remains to be seen what will come of the state governments efforts to attract a blue hydrogen hub to the region.