We have so many petrochemical plants and they emit pollution and hurt the environment. What can be done?

Louisiana’s petrochemical industry and its greenhouse gas emissions have long contributed to the warming climate putting the state at high risk. Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration is now advocating a cleaner source of fuel for those plants — and the state’s bid to develop a regional hub for that purpose could be in line for a major federal grant. Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma have been asked to submit an application to the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a $1.25 billion regional clean hydrogen hub, Edwards has announced. Edwards, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Oklahoma Gov. J. Kevin Stitt signed a March agreement to create the HALO Hub, a bipartisan partnership of the three states to compete for a share of $7 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding that will be used to create between six and 10 regional clean hydrogen hubs. HALO stands for Hydrogen, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

Shifting to hydrogen is one alternative and one that is being pushed. Hence the hydrogen hub.

Hydrogen is seen as a growing alternative to the use of carbon-based fuels, including natural gas, for use in manufacturing petrochemicals, as a heating source in those manufacturing processes, and as transportation fuels for everything from agricultural tractors to ocean-going vessels.  The hubs will be designed to demonstrate ways to produce, process, deliver, store and use clean hydrogen, which includes both “green hydrogen” and “blue hydrogen.” Green hydrogen would usually involve producing the gas from water using energy sources that don’t emit carbon dioxide. The blue process often uses natural gas or other carbon-based materials to create hydrogen, with carbon emissions captured and either permanently stored in other products, like concrete, or sequestered deep underground. The states submitted an initial broad concept pitch to the Energy Department in early November, and after all regional applications were independently assessed, the three states were asked to submit a second-stage application that is due on April 7. 

The governors are all in for the interstate cooperation.

“Expansion of hydrogen production and use is tailor-made for the HALO states because there has already been investment and work in the component parts of potential hydrogen hubs, but we can now have a focal point that unifies the efforts of the three states,” Edwards said in a news release. “HALO states already have a healthy infrastructure in place that is actively delivering the raw materials to our industrial base, which is, in turn, making use of that hydrogen feedstock — next steps will be making sure all that hydrogen becomes low-carbon and making it more available and accepted as a major energy source.” “Arkansas has a growing and diverse energy portfolio and natural resources that are vital to any successful regional hub,” said Hutchinson. “The opportunities and abundant resources in Oklahoma complement our partners, and I am confident that our three-state coalition can land this hub and become the nation’s heartland for hydrogen,” said Stitt.

The hub will be a public/private group bring expertise from both sectors.

A concept paper summary dated Dec. 15 for the hub says it will use public-private partnerships that will help deploy and develop an extensive hydrogen network in the three states that would in turn be integrated into a national hydrogen network.  The full concept paper was not released because it contains proprietary, trade secret and other privileged information supplied to the states by the private industry partners, including a number of industries that have already announced plans to develop either hydrogen production or carbon sequestration projects in Louisiana.  Among the lead partners listed on the HALO Hub website, each of which committed a minimum $100,000 to the initial development effort, are Air Products, Baker Hughes, the Cherokee Nation, LSB Industries, Nutrien, OG+E, Oneok, Shell, TC Energy and Williams. Another 36 industries, industrial development organizations and universities have pledged smaller investments in the initial program, including Greater New Orleans Inc., CF Industries, LSU, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, and the University of Tulsa. 

The local communities will benefit as well.

The summary also says the states are committed to implementing a “community benefits plan” that includes community and labor engagement, and a commitment to President Joe Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which calls for 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution. “Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma readily recognize that the building blocks for such a hub are already in place across the respective states, with ample natural gas production; robust pipeline networks; rail and river transports; heavy industry that already relies on hydrogen as a feedstock; established ports and trucking centers that could convert to hydrogen fuel; and opportunities to take advantage of regional geology to sequester carbon captured from hydrogen production deep underground,” said Jason Lanclos, director of the Louisiana State Energy Office, who is overseeing the hub program, in a letter explaining the program. “To support this effort, the three states facilitated a concerted effort to engage academia, communities, industry, relevant stakeholders, and populations that historically have been overlooked or struggled to capitalize on similar economic opportunities,” he said.

In other stories I think UNO is mentioned as a potential site.

Will we be a regional hydrogen hub?
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