Jan. 27—Members of the state House of Representatives' Energy, Environment and Natural Resources committee on Thursday voted to block a bill that aimed to make New Mexico a hub of hydrogen production.
The committee voted 6-4 to table House Bill 4, which has been a high priority for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Two Democrats joined four Republicans in favoring the motion to prevent the bill from moving forward.
A bill that has been tabled in the Legislature is rarely revived for discussion or another vote.
Lujan Grisham has said HB 4 would provide economic benefits and jobs for the state while making New Mexico a leader in what advocates call clean hydrogen production.
The plan called for creating an industry to separate what's known as "blue hydrogen" from natural gas. Carbon dioxide would be captured during the process and stored underground. The hydrogen would be used to power electric plants, heat homes and fuel transportation.
But the use of natural gas in the process is facing criticism from environmental groups that see the initiative as increasing, not decreasing, fossil fuel production in the state.
Advocates say the bill will help the state reduce its greenhouse gas emissions over time and help create new businesses and jobs for the state. The bill would authorize tax incentives for private or public entities to build hydrogen production and distribution businesses around the state.
About 40 people spoke in opposition to the bill during Thursday's virtual committee hearing, while about 30 spoke in favor of it.
Over the course of the six-hour hearing, members of the committee posed a number of questions regarding the technology needed to pursue the plan, how much it will cost and whether it will do more, rather than less, harm to the environment.
This is a developing story. Check back for more details.
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