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    Centering Oakland on Hydrogen Energy

    By Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember At-Large–

    As communities in parts of Oakland for decades have been disproportionately impacted by air pollution and higher rates of asthma and cancer, we must lead in adopting zero-emission technology, including for trucks and other sources of diesel emissions that are a major cause of these problems. Oakland and the East Bay regionally have been the site of major leadership in embracing zero-emission vehicle technology, including heavy-duty trucks and buses, which we seek to expand.

    This past fall, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) announced the formation of the Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems (ARCHES), a shared not-for-profit LLC public-private partnership designed to accelerate hydrogen’s contribution to decarbonizing the economy in California. To ensure the City of Oakland is an active collaborator in the state’s effort, I have proposed a resolution that highlights Oakland’s leadership in hydrogen adoption, requests that Oakland be considered as a location for a potential statewide clean hydrogen hub, and declares the city’s intent to enter into a memorandum of commitment to join ARCHES. Participation in ARCHES would allow Oakland to build a healthier future and create local quality green jobs while reducing pollution impacts and transitioning to clean locally produced energy.

    Through collaboration with government, industry, non-governmental organizations, research institutions, and communities, ARCHES aims to establish a federally co-funded renewable hydrogen hub in California, and create an economically sustainable and expanding, renewable hydrogen market. ARCHES will submit California’s state-wide application for federal hydrogen hub funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIL), which made available $8 billion for six to ten hubs nationally.

    On December 7, 2022, I announced my resolution asking the State of California to select the City of Oakland as a Hydrogen Hub for the statewide Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems’ (ARCHES), to help reduce the deadly and harmful air pollution caused by emissions, especially diesel particulate emissions from trucks, which have disproportionately caused harm to African American and lower income communities in East Oakland and West Oakland.

    I have long championed successful legislation and partnerships to make Oakland a leader in hydrogen adoption. The City of Oakland has demonstrated its commitment to the adoption, across sectors and industries’ collaboration for hydrogen delivery, storage, and end-uses, developing and implementing policies that scale up early markets, and centering the voices from communities directly impacted by the harmful effects of mobile source emissions, and as I recently presented at the 2022 Mobility Innovators Forum, what is possible for public-private partnerships to accomplish with green transportation.

    For more than 20 years, the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) has been a leader in adopting and advancing zero-emission technology, mandating its entire bus fleet’s transition to zero-emission by 2040. AC Transit has expanded its hydrogen fueling capacity to serve up to 78 buses between its Oakland and Emeryville divisions and has also secured funding to expand its hydrogen fueling capacity to 130 buses at the Oakland division.

    In 2021, the Center for Transportation and the Environment, in partnership with the City of Oakland and 15 other public and private organizations, secured $54 million to build and deploy 30 fuel cell hydrogen trucks and a supporting hydrogen fueling station at the East Bay Municipal Utility (EBMUD) property, adjacent to the Port of Oakland. The NorCal ZERO project is the largest commercial deployment of Class 8 Fuel Cell Electric Trucks in North America, highlighting Oakland’s leading efforts to embrace hydrogen technology and help reduce pollution and health impacts from trucks.

    Oakland has been bringing hydrogen energy online for years. Now, with the resources and green jobs that ARCHES would bring, the City of Oakland can continue to center on hydrogen fuel use and deployment and continue to lead in the zero-emission sector.

    Councilmember At-Large and Council President Rebecca Kaplan, who is the Vice Mayor of Oakland, was elected in 2008 to serve as Oakland’s citywide Councilmember; she was re-elected in 2016 and 2020. She also serves on the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC). Follow Councilmember Kaplan on Twitter @Kaplan4Oakland ( ) and Facebook (

    Out of the Closet and into City Hall
    Published on December 15, 2022