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Manchin, Capito Discuss Appalachian Hydrogen Hub


Charleston – U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito are optimistic about the economic potential for the Appalachian Hydrogen Hub in West Virginia, but challenges remain.

Manchin and Capito briefed the business community Wednesday morning in a Zoom call held by the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce for their Business Academy series.

“Our entire state is going to benefit from this,” said Manchin, D-W.Va., chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “We’ve got to be in a positive move. We’ve got to work through all the challenges we’re going to have, but we can overcome any of this and create so many more jobs and economic opportunities.”

“We really don’t have to make a choice between production of energy and the environment,” said Capito, R-W.Va., ranking Republican member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “I think it’s absolutely critical for us to get this project off the ground.”

President Joe Biden and Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced last month that West Virginia and parts of Pennsylvania and Southeast Ohio will be part of the new Appalachian Hydrogen Hub, one of seven regional hydrogen hubs across the nation.

Hydrogen has many uses, including commercial transportation, electric power generation, chemical manufacturing and production of batteries for commercial and industrial uses. Each hub will produce hydrogen for different needs and through different processes.

The Appalachian Hydrogen Hub will consist of multiple production nodes connected across hundreds of miles between the three states in the hub, which will use the region’s abundant natural gas to produce hydrogen through a process called blue hydrogen. Emissions created from extracting the hydrogen from natural gas would be stored underground through carbon capture and sequestration.

“West Virginia’s been a tremendous energy producer for years and years and years,” Manchin said. “We’ve mined the coal, made the steel, and we’ve done everything humanly possible to support our country. This is another way for West Virginia to continue to keep that energy role that this country needs and depends on us.”

The Appalachian Hydrogen Hub project represents a more than $925 million investment, and could create an estimated 18,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs. The total economic impact for the region could reach $6 billion.

The hub also is a public-private partnership with the Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub, or ARCH2, which includes more than 40 partner companies in the natural gas, energy and manufacturing sectors, West Virginia University and Marshall University, local transit authorities and the federal National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Capito said being chosen for a hub was great, but it was only the beginning of a process. Federal officials will be looking at the state’s partnerships such as with ARCH2 and the level of community engagement in areas where hub nodes will be placed to ensure the project is welcome. Capito said teams with ARCH2 are traveling the state to meet with community leaders.

“We are not, and I think that people need to realize this, we are not in the final phase of a full thumbs up to move forward. So today, negotiations begin,” Capito said. “We are at the second critical juncture to which we can begin full implementation once we get the okay.”

It’s going to be important to demonstrate not just as a state or region, but how individual communities can benefit, Capito said.

“My understanding is it does play a role in terms of making sure you’re doing all the things that you need to do to secure the final funding that goes forward,” she said.

Manchin and Capito said the thousands of construction workers needed for the project will need a place to live, creating a need for affordable short-term housing.

Permitting for the infrastructure for each node on the hub, such as for pipelines and for underground carbon storage, could create delays. While some permitting reform was passed earlier this summer, Both Manchin and Capito said more reform was needed.

“We’re working very hard, and I know Shelley is too, with the EPA to get our Class 6 well permits so that we can start basically doing carbon capture sequestration,” Manchin said. “It’s a whole other thing.”

“Some of the permitting aspects of this are going to be absolutely critical as we move through this,” Capito said.

While the Appalachian Hydrogen Hub project is in its infancy, Manchin said it has the potential to keep West Virginia in the energy game for decades to come.

“Our little state is, again, punching way above its weight class,” Manchin said. “And we once again have the chance to be a leader in a groundbreaking energy industry that’s going to strengthen the nation’s energy and national security while reducing emissions and helping protect the environment that we love. That’s a responsibility.”


Story by Steven Allen Adams, The Intelligencer



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