Barrasso: Hydrogen Offers Great Promise as an Energy Source

July 19, 2022

Click here to watch Ranking Member Barrasso’s remarks.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), delivered remarks at a full committee hearing to examine federal regulatory authorities governing the development of interstate hydrogen pipelines, storage, import, and export facilities. 

The hearing featured testimony from Dr. Holly Krutka, director of the school of Energy Resources at the University of Wyoming; Mr. Andrew Marsh, president and CEO of Plug; Richard E. Powers, Jr., Esq., partner and head of the Energy Practice Group at Venable LLP; and Mr. Chad Zamarin, senior vice president of Corporate Strategic Development of Williams. 

For more information on witness testimony click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“Thanks so much Mr. Chairman, and I agree, we do have a crisis in the nation. 

“I’m glad you’re holding today’s hearing. 

“The topic of federal regulatory authorities over interstate hydrogen pipelines is really an important topic for us to be discussing. 

“Over the past several years, the private sector has shown a growing interest in expanding the use of hydrogen as a fuel source. 

“Hydrogen is the smallest, lightest, and most abundant element in our universe. 

“It also offers great promise as a source of low-carbon or carbon-free energy. 

“The hydrogen we use is not found in isolation. 

“It is commonly bound with other elements, methane, coal, water. 

“Hydrogen must therefore be separated from these compounds. 

“For that reason, the places where we extract hydrogen will often be far from the places where we use hydrogen. 

“That is why we need a safe, efficient, and cost-effective means, as you pointed out, to transport hydrogen. 

“Hydrogen can be shipped in two ways. 

“It can be chilled to a liquid and shipped by truck, rail, or barge. 

“Alternatively, it can be shipped as a compressed gas through pipelines. 

“Most existing natural gas pipelines are equipped to ship methane blends which can include up to 20 percent hydrogen. 

“As interest in hydrogen expands, our existing interstate natural gas pipeline network may become the principal means we use to ship hydrogen. 

“At some point in the future, there may be a need for a vast pipeline network that can ship higher blends of hydrogen or even exclusively hydrogen. 

“And that brings us to the questions before us today. 

“What authority does the federal government currently have over hydrogen pipelines? 

“And what does Congress need to know before we consider any next steps? 

“Under current law, the Natural Gas Act provides the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authority over natural gas pipelines.

“That includes pipelines that can ship up to 50 percent hydrogen. 

“The Interstate Commerce Act provides the Commission authority over pipelines that ship hydrogen to be used as a fuel source. 

“At this point, I’m not convinced there is a so-called ‘regulatory gap’ that Congress needs to fill. 

“It is important to keep in mind that the hydrogen industry is still in its infancy. 

“Twenty years ago, many in Washington believed hydrogen would soon be a widely-used fuel source. 

“Despite millions of dollars in incentives and the backing of the Bush administration, that never materialized.  

“We must therefore be cautious and acknowledge that excessive regulation does more harm than good. 

“Let’s not kill the hydrogen industry while it is still in the cradle. 

“We must also not take steps that may empower those looking to block new natural gas pipelines. 

“Wyoming, West Virginia, and many other states represented on this committee have been blessed with abundant natural gas resources. 

“These natural gas resources have provided tens of millions of American families with an affordable and reliable source of energy. 

“Yet today, our country’s natural gas pipelines are under unprecedented attack. 

“Well-funded environmental, extremist activists are throwing the kitchen sink at every new project. 

“The current majority of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission wants to make it nearly impossible to upgrade pipelines or build new ones. 

“I’m concerned that some on the Commission may seek to make the ability to ship higher blends of hydrogen a reason to impose new conditions on new or upgraded natural gas pipelines. 

“If that happens, it would be a disaster. 

“Let’s not give these activists or the Commission another weapon to use against natural gas pipelines. 

“I want to thank all of the witnesses for being here today and joining us. 

“I especially want to thank Dr. Krutka from Wyoming for traveling from Laramie, Wyoming. 

“I look forward to the testimony.”