Research Collaborative with EJ Organizations Creates Framework of Hydrogen Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $7 billion to launch seven Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs (H2Hubs) across the nation. These federal dollars aim to build a national network of hydrogen producers, consumers, and infrastructure. To further the demand for hydrogen energy, the federal government also created a hydrogen production tax credit with a $100 billion price tag (over the next decade), and GHG standards for fossil fuel power plants encouraging combustion of “low GHG” hydrogen (the Clean Air Act rule). The federal government hopes to increase hydrogen production by 5 times by 2050. 

Hydrogen has been touted as a “clean” energy solution yet it poses significant downsides that are often left out of the public discourse. Issues such as transparency, safety standards and the amount of water required to produce hydrogen energy are critical considerations when weighing what package of interventions would be best in a local context. BIPOC and low-income communities that shoulder the burden of our nation’s reliance on fossil fuels, referred to as environmental and climate justice communities (EJ-CJ), are largely excluded from the policy making arenas that determine what, where and how solutions to a clean energy transition are implemented. As the proposed hydrogen hubs move ahead, environmental justice communities where hubs are located should be actively engaged.

As a BIPOC-led national policy organization that partners with communities disproportionately impacted by climate change, Just Solutions brought together leading community experts from each location of the proposed hydrogen hubs to co-create a timely, comprehensive report. This Research Collaborative of nine community-based climate and environmental justice organizations with relevant experience and interests in hydrogen energy was convened over the past several months, ensuring that the perspectives of various communities, sectors and geographies were represented. The work began with a deep dive to build shared knowledge and understanding of hydrogen energy. Working with technical experts Dr. Arjun Makihanji from the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and Dr. Thom Hersbach from Stanford University Woods Institute for the Environment, the Research Collaborative was able to inform and shape technical research papers. 

The result of this collective work also created the Hydrogen EJ Framework, a tool for communities as they engage on this technology to advance environmental justice, particularly in the communities where hydrogen energy facilities will be located. The framework is designed as a resource for BIPOC frontline communities and provides criteria to evaluate hydrogen energy concepts and critically analyzes the implications to inform community decision-making. 

The process of engaging a diverse group of community leaders and facilitating discussions to co-create a much needed framework was illuminating and demonstrated the value of community-centered analysis of new climate technologies.  

“Our collaboration with Just Solutions was more than a partnership; it was a dialogue. We listened, learned, and co-designed a community-centered framework that prioritized the health and well-being of those on the frontlines of climate change. Our collaborative work will inform communities about new energy technologies and provide vital information on its risks and benefits.” 

– Alex Jasset, Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles

Working with Just Solutions and the Energy Research Collaborative in developing the Hydrogen EJ Framework proved invaluable in gaining an understanding of hydrogen, the kinds of infrastructure associated with the technology, and developing strategies to safeguard our environmental justice communities based on the reports of Dr. Arjun Makhijani and Dr. Hersbach. This experience has allowed us to craft a tool collectively that can be used to advocate for our communities while counterbalancing the prevailing narratives led by industry. The Just Solutions and Energy Research Collaborative handled our input respectfully incorporating it in the EJ framework. As an environmental justice organization, equitable treatment in any collaboration is of utmost importance, and this was achieved in our partnership with Just Solutions and Energy Research Collaborative.

– Fenceline Watch – Houston Texas

Just Solutions is committed to supporting this type of collaborative model to uplift community voices and drive forward community-informed research and analysis of climate solutions. In an equitable transition to a clean energy future, all individuals and communities must have equal access to a healthy and sustainable environment. That is why a comprehensive evaluation of potential environmental and health repercussions is essential when considering hydrogen energy alternatives. Read more about the framework and our broader climate justice work on our website: The Hydrogen EJ Framework – Just Solutions (