Biden administration announces green manufacturing push
The Biden administration announced a series of steps on Tuesday aimed at promoting green manufacturing and taking on climate change contributions from the industrial sector.
A new fact sheet from the White House said it would aim to do so through a series of initiatives aimed at bolstering clean hydrogen energy and using the federal government’s purchasing power to advance its climate goals, among other efforts.
The Energy Department announced that it will take a step toward carrying out programs initiated by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law on clean hydrogen — which is when hydrogen energy is produced using clean energy — by issuing new requests for information from stakeholders.
Its purchasing efforts include efforts from the General Services Administration to buy low-carbon concrete and asphalt. It also includes efforts to use cleaner materials in federal transportation projects at the Department of Transportation including a pilot program incentivizing the acquisition of low carbon materials and the creation of a DOT working group that will assess and take actions to cut emissions from construction materials used in transportation infrastructure.
And it will expand a State Department effort known as the First Movers Coalition, which aims to help companies use their purchasing power to drive demand for clean goods, to include the aluminum, cement, chemicals and carbon removal sectors.
But the federal purchasing efforts come as a Postal Service move to largely replace its fleet with gas-powered instead of electric vehicles remains a major point of contention.
The Postal Service is led by Louis DeJoy, whom Biden can’t replace at will. DeJoy has said that the mostly gasoline fleet is the cheaper option, much to the chagrin of administration officials and congressional Democrats.
On a call with reporters on Monday, senior administration officials declined to detail next steps on the Postal Service issue.
The green manufacturing effort at large also comes as the industrial sector, which includes manufacturing and construction, is responsible for nearly a quarter of the U.S. contribution to climate change. Some industries including steel and cement are considered harder to cut emissions from because of technological or cost-related challenges.
The White House’s fact sheet said that its hydrogen efforts will be particularly important for hard-to-decarbonize sectors and processes, including steel manufacturing.
The largest hydrogen program from the bipartisan legislation that’s being advanced on Tuesday is an $8 billion initiative to establish regional clean hydrogen hubs that aim to advance the fuel’s production, processing, delivery, storage and end-use.
There will also be requests for a $1 billion initiative that supports research, development and demonstration to commercialization and deployment in an effort to cut costs and boost efficiency as well as a $500 million program supporting the fuel’s manufacturing and recycling.
Hydrogen energy is created when hydrogen reacts with oxygen atoms in a battery-like fuel cell to produce electricity.
The administration also announced plans that will affect the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s $12 billion investment in carbon capture and sequestration — still-developing technology that aims to capture carbon emissions and prevent them from going into the air and worsening climate change.
The technology can be controversial, as opponents warn that it can be used to extend the life of polluting facilities.
The Environmental Protection Agency will now propose to increase scrutiny of types of carbon capture facilities by collecting individual emissions data from them, according to a senior administration official.
The efforts announced on Tuesday come as the Biden administration has been eager to tout the climate change provisions in its bipartisan infrastructure legislation while the future of its signature Build Back Better legislation, which had much more robust climate action, remains uncertain.