Published 27 May 2022
The regulation of hydrogen in the United States has focused, nearly exclusively, on the research and development of leap-wise hydrogen technologies. Although these regulatory programs have established guideposts for hydrogen-based technologies’ development, regulations have not yet advanced to include practical measures that would drive the public’s use of hydrogen as a low to zero-carbon emission energy source. This lack of practicality prevents any benefit from existing hydrogen technologies being realized and remains a primary hinderance to the institution of hydrogen-based fuels in the marketplace.
The domestic use of hydrogen-based fuels may represent a small portion of the current hydrogen economy, but hydrogen-based fuels provide necessary relatability and personal use by the public. This capture of the general public's sentiment through relatability is lost by other industrial hydrogen uses too far removed from the end consumer. The future use of hydrogen as an alternative energy source, to reduce environmental pollution in a meaningful way, is ultimately dependent on the public’s acceptance and familiarity with hydrogen.
After a brief introduction to current hydrogen regulation in the US, this article identifies and explores opportunities for the stepwise institution of hydrogen fuels into the marketplace through existing regulatory control schemes of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) and the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”). By utilizing existing statutes and resulting regulations these two agencies, through policy statements, may quickly create the conditions needed to realize the environmental and economic benefits of available hydrogen-based fuels.
Subsequently, as the availability of hydrogen-based fuels on the energy market increases, agencies must then determine how to regulate the labeling of hydrogen production methods in the marketplace. This article proceeds to evaluate the geopolitical aspects of this critical task of defining hydrogen production standards and identifies an easy to administer solution modeled after the “organic” program of the USDA.
Taken together, the stepwise institution of hydrogen-based fuels through existing regulations and the regulation of hydrogen production labeling, the environmental and economic benefits of existing hydrogen technology may be realized without the additional need for leap-wise hydrogen technology.