Capital & Main: Industry wants new pipeline on Navajo land scarred by decades of fossil fuel extraction
In a nutshell:
With over a billion dollars proposed for the Western Interstate Hydrogen Hub (aptly named WISSH) project, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham(D) has made the hydrogen hub a priority for her administration—especially in a part of the state where her politics are widely disparaged. Meanwhile the Navajo Nation, recovering from the economic shock of coal phaseout is faced with a choice—hitch onto the hydrogen train or wait for the next opportunity? And when will that opportunity be and where will it come from? If it is to be hydrogen, what are the tradeoffs?
On the Navajo Nation, climate change and fossil fuel development aren’t mental exercises. “It’s real for us,” she says.
The fossil fuel industry wants to stay in the game. The Navajo Nation wants jobs and cash flow to fill the void left by the end of coal mining and coal-fired power. The governor of New Mexico would like to thread the needle between fossil fuel constituents and environmental supporters. "Green" hydrogen production would require a lot of water in a region where there is not enough to go around. "Blue" hydrogen taps into the natural gas abundance of the area, but given New Mexico's poor track record with methane leaks and abandoned oil and gas wells, there are grave concerns about pollution.