Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma join hydrogen hub chase

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Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas are banding together in hopes of becoming one of four "hydrogen hubs" supported by $8 billion in last year's federal infrastructure bill, their governors announced Thursday.

All three states have a long history of producing and transporting liquid and gas fuels and feedstocks, and industries that could use hydrogen as fuel or in manufacturing, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, said in a joint news release with Republican Govs. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas.

The states said they will work together to develop, produce, and use hydrogen as fuel and manufacturing feedstock.

"Oklahoma is honored to join in forming this partnership, not because of convenience, or necessity, but rather because we share a similar vision and goals for the production, use, and economic impact that can result from creating this hydrogen economy," Stitt said.

Hutchinson said, "In Arkansas, we have a growing and diverse energy portfolio and natural resources vital to any successful regional hub."

This is at least the third proposed hydrogen hub. Four Rocky Mountain states announced their proposal in February. Earlier that month, SoCalGas proposed one for the Los Angeles Basin.

Proposals are due March 21 at the U.S. Department of Energy.

The department is to choose hubs based on considerations including the mix of feedstock available to produce hydrogen, available users of hydrogen, geographic locations, and potential effects on employment.

Hydrogen is the universe's most abundant element and is seen as a way to reduce emissions from cars, trucks, planes and trains. As with , however, a lack of fueling stations limits the market, which in turn limits investment in producing and moving hydrogen.

The governors said their advantages include pipelines, rail systems and an inland seaport system that run through all three states.

"More importantly, hydrogen is already available for demonstration with new large clean hydrogen production hubs scheduled to come on line in the near future," the news release said.

In late 2021, industrial gas supplier Air Products said in October 2021 that it would build a $4.5 billion plant in Louisiana to get hydrogen from , injecting waste carbon into underground wells to keep it out of the atmosphere. A study last year found that the process produces about 20% more carbon than burning natural gas or coal for heat.

Woodside Energy Ltd of Perth, Western Australia, has an option to buy land in Oklahoma for a large plant that would use electricity to separate hydrogen and oxygen in water, the state announced in December 2021. That process is considered cleaner.

Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Thomas Harris, Oklahoma Secretary of Energy & Environment Kenneth Wagner will coordinate governmental, research, and private sector efforts to promote development and use, thee governors said.

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