Oklahoma Legislature Creates Legal Infrastructure for Hydrogen Energy

A hydrogen storage tank. (onurdongel/Getty Images)

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Oklahoma legislators have passed nine new laws creating a legal infrastructure for hydrogen fuel to better position residents and businesses to make, use and distribute the alternative energy source.

The hydrogen fuel bills introduced during the 58th Oklahoma State Legislature (Feb. 7 to May 27) were jointly sponsored in the House and Senate in a Republican-led effort by Sens. Mark Allen, Kim David, John Michael Montgomery, Adam Pugh, Frank Simpson and Zack Taylor along with Reps. Brad Boles, Terry O’Donnell, Ryan Martinez, Mark McBride, Garry Mize and Kevin Wallace.

David, who co-sponsored three successful bills, said, “We’re very interested in Oklahoma opening up commercial trucking for hydrogen, especially with the price of diesel fuel now.” She said having Interstate 40 cut through the state makes it ideal for freight transportation using clean fuel powered commercial vehicles.



“We’ve had a couple of companies that are looking at moving to Oklahoma and it’s all in regards to being able to build commercial trucks that use hydrogen. Passing this legislation opened the door for that,” she said.

David co-chaired a state task force last year to examine potential hydrogen fuel possibilities. Part of the effort involved determining what types of laws will be needed. She said she hopes the new laws will help hydrogen “take off” there. “It’s not just one energy we’re interested in, it’s a balance, and this is a good balance for our portfolio in Oklahoma,” she added.

David fills up a hydrogen-powered bus in Germany. (Courtesy of Sen. Kim David.)

Gov. J. Kevin Stitt has been approving the bills as they sailed through the House and Senate.

“I think these bills should signify that we are interested and willing to invest in the hydrogen industry and want to be a partner,” Montgomery said. “It’s safe to say that we will be competing for becoming that hydrogen hub. We are excited about how this could pair off with our existing energy portfolio and optimistic about the potential for a reliable new form of transportation.”

As of July 1, Senate Bill 1190 enables the State Board of Career and Technology Education to establish hydrogen energy courses to meet workforce needs.

Starting Nov. 1, six other hydrogen laws take effect. SB 1852 includes hydrogen production, storage, distribution and infrastructure among the state’s Low-Carbon Energy Initiative activities. Oklahoma will establish (via SB 1853) a yearly hydrogen fuel goal to produce 2 million metric tons by 2028 using a low- or zero-carbon source.

Under SB 1856, the state secretary of energy and environment will be able to create a grant program for carbon sequestered from hydrogen production using natural gas.

House Bill 3054 provides a weight exemption for motor vehicles whose engines are fueled partially or completely by electric battery or hydrogen fuel cells.

I'm proud to be the author of Senate Bills 1857 and 1858, which will play a vital role in growing our state's hydrogen... Posted by Senator John Michael Montgomery on Monday, March 14, 2022

SB 1197 exempts hydrogen tank systems from state petroleum storage tank provisions. Jim Newport, president and CEO of Oklahoma Trucking Association, noted that tanks required to carry compressed natural gas are heavy.

Under a new Oklahoma Emergency Energy Availability Act of 2022 (created by SB 1410), agencies, school districts, municipalities and others must make plans to use at least three distinct energy sources including biomass, coal, biomass, coal, hydroelectricity, natural gas, hydrogen, nuclear, oil, solar, water and wind.

Two bills sent to the governor May 20:

  • SB 1855: authorizing the Department of Labor to inspect equipment used by the public to access compressed natural gas or hydrogen fueling stations/pumps. Effective Nov. 1 if approved.
  • SB 1857: Allowing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to be included in an income tax credit for qualified clean-burning vehicles. Effective Jan. 1, 2023 if approved.

“Oklahoma is an oil and gas state. We have a lot of natural gas,” David said. “We are uniquely positioned for the blue energy side of hydrogen and once carbon sequestration becomes more economically viable to do, it will turn more green. The blue energy level of this is where I really see Oklahoma knocking it off the charts.”

On March 10, Stitt joined Govs. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas to form a regional hydrogen hub partnership to compete for federal infrastructure investment funds.

Montgomery said his constituents are interested in a diversified economy and new hydrogen-related jobs.

Two other bills introduced this session but stuck in the Legislature are HB 3445 with tax credits for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and SB 1858 for income tax credits and tuition reimbursements for hydrogen-manufacturing companies whose employees take job-related higher education classes.

“Some of the hang-ups have been around cost to the state, whether quality evaluation of the incentives will take place and things of that nature. But the prevailing view is that this is something that will be worthwhile investing in,” Montgomery stated.

 

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