Governor signs executive order directing collaboration to further clean hydrogen economy

11 Mar 2022

ALBUQUERQUE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday signed executive order 2022-013, “Establishing the Clean Hydrogen Development Initiative and Implementing Various Measures to Foster a Hydrogen Economy for the Benefit of All New Mexicans.”  

“New Mexico is a state that believes in bold, innovative solutions that address our climate challenges while creating green jobs and diversifying our economy,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “We are truly in a position to have it all – and this administration is leading the charge toward making New Mexico a national clean and no-carbon hydrogen hub.”  

The executive order directs the Economic Development; Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources; Environment; Taxation and Revenue; and Indian Affairs departments to collaborate on pursuing funding and economic opportunities related to a robust and environmentally responsible clean hydrogen economy. The executive order directs the Council to assist the Western Inter-State Hydrogen Hub in developing the application to the Department of Energy and make recommendations to the governor on additional clean hydrogen initiatives and policies. The text of the executive order is attached.

The executive order also directs:

  • The Economic Development Department to include hydrogen as one of its key economic sectors and support the development of clean and zero-carbon hydrogen production;
  • The Environment and Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources departments to develop a proposal for consideration by the Public Regulation Commission to ensure that no-carbon hydrogen electric generation facilities are eligible as “zero carbon resources” under the Energy Transition Act;
  • The Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department to develop recommendations regarding carbon sequestration operations in New Mexico, including around pore space ownership and development and financial assurance requirements; and
  • The Indian Affairs Department to facilitate consultations between New Mexico Indian, tribes, nations and pueblos and state agencies on potential programs to support the development of environmentally responsible hydrogen development.  

The governor signed the executive order following a New Mexico Business Leaders in Hydrogen Roundtable in Albuquerque, which brought together more than 50 representatives from industry, tribes, state officials, legislators and academia for a wide-ranging discussion on the role that hydrogen will play in enabling New Mexico to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Attendees discussed sustainable growth of hydrogen production, distribution and use, as well as strategies to drive greater deployment of capital for hydrogen development in New Mexico.  

Climate experts agree that the energy challenges facing the world cannot be solved by any single approach. The State of New Mexico is developing a robust portfolio of clean energy solutions that includes solar, wind, geothermal, energy storage, and zero-carbon hydrogen. Hydrogen can provide energy or fuel for industries that are difficult to decarbonize through other means because of the physical or thermal limitations, such as heavy-duty trucking, marine shipping, concrete manufacturing, and aviation.  

The February 2022 “carbonomics” Goldman Sachs report values the clean hydrogen sector at $1 trillion. New Mexico stands to lead the nation in the race to net zero while exponentially growing our clean energy economy.

“New Mexico is the place to invest and grow low-carbon energy jobs. This industry brings high-wage jobs and further diversifies the economy - making us more resilient and ready to lead the country into a planet-forward future,” said Economic Development Secretary Alicia J. Keyes.  

“New Mexico must take this opportunity to be a leader in the growing hydrogen energy sector”, said Rob Black, President and CEO of the New Mexico Chamber of Commerce. “Through hydrogen, New Mexico can reduce our carbon emissions while creating new, good paying jobs in some of the most economically disadvantaged communities in the state. We often say we support economic development in rural communities but don’t deliver. Here is a chance to actually deliver and do right by the environment, it is a win-win.”

“Governor Lujan Grisham knows the power of bringing innovators together and I couldn’t think of a better way to help set New Mexico apart as we drive down carbon emissions and move to a hydrogen-based economy,” said Universal Hydrogen Co. Co-Founder & General Counsel Jon Gordon. “I want to thank the leadership that helped organize today’s discussions and look forward to telling others about New Mexico’s strong investment and bright future in this important energy transition.”

“New Mexico is rich in energy resources and providing real leadership in moving to a hydrogen-based economy. Technologies such as CZero's, which decarbonizes natural gas to produce CO2-free hydrogen, can help catalyze economic development and set New Mexico apart by reducing emissions during the energy transition,” said Dr. Eric McFarland, CTO of CZero.

“New Mexico has the talent, technology, and feedstocks to lead the hydrogen sector,” shared Rebecca Boudreaux, Ph.D., President and CEO of Oberon Fuels. “In order to address hydrogen’s transport challenges, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Oberon are validating an innovative approach to renewable hydrogen – through renewable dimethyl ether (rDME), which can be made from dairy manure and other in-state feedstocks.”

“We’re excited to see New Mexico at the forefront of the developing hydrogen economy and grateful for the governor’s call for collaboration. We look forward to expanding the state’s hydrogen infrastructure to help meet New Mexico’s aggressive climate change goals,” said Damon Daniels, Chief Commercial Officer of Tallgrass.

“At AVANGRID we believe the future of green hydrogen is now and we applaud Governor Lujan Grisham for her vision and leadership. We, like Governor Lujan Grisham, have a vision to be a leader in green hydrogen and plan to draw on the proven experience of our partners globally to supply zero-carbon hydrogen energy for multiple applications in the U.S.,” said Deputy CEO and President of AVANGRID, Robert Kump. “New Mexico and the Intermountain West can count on our support as they establish a hydrogen strategy for the region. We look forward to being a key partner, along with consumers, communities and other stakeholders, in building New Mexico’s green hydrogen economy.”

“We are thankful to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham for including Plug Power in this important roundtable discussion alongside other key business leaders in hydrogen,” said Tim Cortes, Chief Technology Officer at Plug Power. “Born and raised in New Mexico, I am proud to see my home state share Plug Power’s vision for a clean energy economy built on a commitment to green hydrogen. We believe green hydrogen is essential to reaching net-zero carbon emissions across sectors like energy, transportation and industrial applications that are Calibri hard to decarbonize.”

“We are encouraged by the thoughtful and deliberate approach New Mexico is taking to developing hydrogen infrastructure in the state. Convening a roundtable meeting of tribal leaders, legislators, businesses, and regulators demonstrates the Governor’s commitment to making New Mexico’s hydrogen economy inclusive and successful and we look forward to being part of it” said Stephen Jolly, Vice President of New Product Development at FuelCell Energy Inc.

Tribal nations also participated in the roundtable, with Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Council Delegate and Chairman of the Navajo Nation Resource Development Committee Rickie Nez, and Jicarilla Legislative Councilmembers Avery Tafoya & Wilburn Tafoya in attendance.  

“As President of the Navajo Nation, I appreciate the opportunity to participate in the “Business Leaders in Hydrogen Roundtable” discussion. Having the states of New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming working together as a coalition to develop a proposal for a region-wide hydrogen hub or hubs is a step in the right direction,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez. “These proposed hubs have the potential to benefit economically disadvantaged and distressed communities, including those impacted by the closure of coal fired power plants. These closures have impacted many Navajo citizens that worked for these plants and families that benefited. With the possibility of acquiring funds through Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act, promoting the development of clean hydrogen in New Mexico has the clear benefit of generating significant economic development including job creation to all New Mexicans, including the Navajo people.”

“The 27,000 square miles of the Navajo Nation sits at the intersection of hydrogen development for New Mexico and the Four Corners region, where all states share an interest in making the southwest a clean energy hub,” said Navajo Nation Council Resources and Development Committee Chairman Rickie Nez (T'iistsoh Sikaad, Nenahnezad, Upper Fruitland, Tsé Daa K'aan, Newcomb, San Juan). “The Navajo people support a future for solar, wind, helium, and hydrogen that will create thousands of jobs and bring new revenue into the Navajo economy.”  

“Building a clean hydrogen economy in New Mexico will help tribal communities develop a new workforce to build out hydrogen-related infrastructure and attract new economic development,” said Indian Affairs Secretary Lynn Trujillo.

Hydrogen is just one piece of New Mexico’s diverse energy portfolio. A total of 1,395 MW of renewable power generation came online between March 2019 and the end of 2021 – more than double the growth in renewable generation in the two years prior. Last month, the governor celebrated the completion of the country’s largest wind project, the Western Spirit Wind Project, in Guadalupe, Lincoln and Torrance counties.  

“Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has set clear state-wide goals for transitioning to a low-carbon economy,” said Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst. “We are ready to work with these partners on our state’s energy and economic diversification strategies.”

New Mexico has already taken bold steps toward developing a clean hydrogen economy. In January, the state signed a memorandum of understanding with Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories that leverages their respective areas of expertise with hydrogen to deliver timely, material and efficient transformation of energy systems. In February, Gov. Lujan Grisham signed a memorandum of understanding with the governors of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming to compete jointly for a portion of the $8 billion allocated in the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for the development of regional clean hydrogen hubs.

“Leveraging the knowledge and research from the national labs in our own backyard and partnering with our mountain west states is the right path to achieve our climate goals in New Mexico and the U.S. while growing our economy,” said Environment Secretary James Kenney. “The signing of this executive order further clarifies how we will build a clean hydrogen future in New Mexico.”