Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero discusses the development of hydrogen stations at a news conference on Thursday, October 6, 2022. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

The Port of Long Beach joined a new public-private partnership, the Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems (ARCHES), that was formed with the aim of developing a renewable hydrogen market in California.

The alliance, which includes the city of Long Beach, celebrated its launch on Thursday with an event in the Long Beach Civic Center Plaza.

Gov. Gavin Newsom “is truly genuinely excited about the opportunity and grateful for the work that everybody’s already done to get us to today, and all the work that lies ahead to bring that hydrogen hub home to California where it belongs,” Dee Dee Myers, senior advisor to the governor and director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, said during Thursday’s announcement.

ARCHES will serve as the lead applicant for California’s bid to win funding under the U.S. Department of Energy’s Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs program. The program, funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will be one of the largest investments in the department’s history, awarding $8 billion to up to 10 regional hydrogen hubs.

The partnership aligns the efforts of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development with the Port of Long Beach, the University of California, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the Los Angeles Federation of Labor, state and local governments and nonprofit organizations.

In May, the state announced its intention to create a renewable hydrogen hub, and Newsom and the state Legislature allotted $54 billion in the most recent budget to address climate issues and accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy.

“As Governor Newsom is fond of saying, when it comes to climate, later is too late,” Myers said.

With a focus on reducing air pollution and dependency on fossil fuels, while also lowering the cost of hydrogen fuel to make it accessible, the effort to accelerate the transition to green hydrogen is estimated to create thousands to tens of thousands of new opportunities for construction workers, according to Andrew Meredith, president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California.

An integral player in the initiative is the Port of Long Beach, which, along with the Port of Los Angeles, handles 43% of waterborne import trade in the U.S. The Port of Long Beach supports over 575,000 Southern California jobs.

The partnership supports the port’s goals of transitioning to zero-emission cargo handling by 2030, and zero-emissions trucks by 2035, said executive director Mario Cordero.

“What’s important is: How does the Port of Long Beach benefit the many as opposed to benefiting the few?” Cordero said. “What we need to do is continue towards our quest for zero emissions, so that we do not just mitigate emissions, but we eliminate emissions.”

Last month, the Port announced that a trucking company partner will convert to fully zero-emission fleets by 2025—10 years before the 2035 goal.

“When we talk about investment at the Port of Long Beach, it’s just not about terminals, and that we could accelerate volume or provide more efficiency,” Cordero said. “We’re also talking about investment in environmental infrastructure . . .  investment in our communities, investment in our neighborhood.”

Cordero credited Councilmember Cindy Allen, who represents Long Beach’s 2nd District, in playing a key role in pushing the initiative forward.

Councilmember Cindy Allen talks at a news conference announcing the development of an organization to pursue a statewide renewable hydrogen market on Thursday, October 6, 2022. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Allen grew up on Long Beach’s Westside, where the environmental impacts on the city’s most marginalized communities are significant, she said.

“I also was diagnosed at a young age with breast cancer and had no history of that in my family, so needless to say, the environment and clean energy is really important to me,” Allen said.

Developing a hydrogen hub is a powerful tool that can be potentially used to decarbonize the heaviest industries and energy uses such as shipping, aviation and heavy-duty trucks, Allen said.

“Our community needs it,” Allen said. “My hope for the future of ARCHES is for there to be meaningful progress towards a greener, cleaner fuel source that can be felt by everyone in our community—economically, environmentally, and most importantly, through quality of life.”

Although air quality issues are only accelerating due to climate change, the region is highly prepared to embrace the future of hydrogen, Vice Mayor Rex Richardson said.

“Long Beach is ready to lead America as it relates to championing renewable, clean hydrogen,” Richardson said. “Together we can create the renewable energy future that our communities deserve.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the city of Long Beach’s involvement in the alliance.