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Press Release | September 6, 2023

RELEASE: As the Hydrogen Industry Vies for Tens of Billions of Federal Dollars, Lax Oversight and Entrenched Fossil Fuel Ties Raise Red Flags

ClimateCorporate CrackdownExecutive BranchTreasury Department
RELEASE: As the Hydrogen Industry Vies for Tens of Billions of Federal Dollars, Lax Oversight and Entrenched Fossil Fuel Ties Raise Red Flags

Contact: Hannah Story Brown, [email protected]; Emma Marsano, [email protected]

The Revolving Door Project released a new Industry Agenda report today examining the executive branch influence agenda of the rapidly growing “clean” hydrogen industry, which is poised to receive tens of billions of dollars under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. 

This report exposes the corporate players and industry influence groups seeking to shape—and often, weaken—the administration’s standards for what constitutes “clean” hydrogen. Unsurprisingly, some efforts by the hydrogen industry to erode standards are abetted by executive branch personnel with hydrogen and fossil fuel ties. Billions of dollars and millions of tons of planet-warming pollution hinge upon the next actions of the executive agencies involved in hydrogen industry oversight. This includes how stringently the Treasury Department drafts its hydrogen tax credit guidance this autumn and to whom the Energy Department distributes federal hydrogen funding.

Our Hydrogen Industry Agenda Report explains the many ways that hydrogen is produced and used, with varying climate impacts. As industry players cry wolf about their inability to meet high standards for clean hydrogen production, we find that the federal executive branch is failing to safeguard against hydrogen’s many Achilles heels, from the lack of hydrogen pipeline safety regulations from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to the Energy Department’s lax threshold for allowable emissions from “clean” hydrogen. 

Report co-author Hannah Story Brown, Senior Researcher at the Revolving Door Project, said: “Clean hydrogen will be a major litmus test of the Biden administration’s willingness to safeguard against the tendency of corporations to take advantage of loopholes and demand from the government whatever interventions in the market give them an advantage. The government’s role in subsidizing clean hydrogen production should not be to maximize corporate profits but to protect the environment and promote the public interest. If the administration bends to the industry’s demands and sets weak standards, it will be squandering a once-in-a-generation opportunity to funnel money towards actual decarbonization.”

Report co-author Emma Marsano, Senior Researcher at the Revolving Door Project, added: 

“Perhaps one reason why the Biden administration has been enthusiastically promoting the growth of the hydrogen industry is that a number of high-ranking executive branch appointees have spent their careers developing or advocating for fossil fuel-reliant hydrogen production and related technologies. These connections raise questions about how effectively federal officials will push for a hydrogen economy that truly prioritizes eliminating greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to making the fossil fuel industry obsolete.”

Read the Hydrogen Industry Agenda Report here.


Image Credit: This image of DOE officials speaking about DOE-funded hydrogen and fuel cell projects was taken by Charles Watkins and is in the public domain.

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