Hydrogen bill hits roadblock in first committee hearing

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Jan. 27—Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's Hydrogen Hub Development Act failed to make it out of the starting gate on Thursday, after the first House committee assigned to hear the bill voted to table it.

Both Democrats and Republicans in the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee voted 6-4 against moving the bill forward, following six hours of debate that attracted a huge audience. Nearly 300 public participants listened in online, and dozens of supporters and opponents provided comments on the legislation.

Significant opposition became evident from the start, after committee Chair Matthew McQueen, D-Santa Fe, conducted a 20-second online poll that showed 73% of respondents opposed the legislation.

About three dozen people — mostly industry leaders and local officials and economic development professionals from rural counties that could directly benefit from hydrogen development — did testify in favor of the bill. But another 40 environmentalists and concerned citizens from around the state spoke out against it, citing widespread fear that promoting and accelerating hydrogen development today with government incentives would hurt, rather than help, state efforts to combat climate change.

While the bill could still be revived during the 30-day legislative session that ends Feb. 17, the Thursday vote likely means the measure faces long odds to win approval this year.

This story will be updated.