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White House Makes Green Manufacturing Push, Including Funding for Clean Hydrogen

  • Biden administration announces multi-pronged effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in manufacturing processes
  • A key component of the initiative looks to accelerate the development and implementation of clean hydrogen technology
  • Effort also looks to leverage public and private buying power to support low-carbon materials and processes

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

The White House has issued a multi-pronged effort to make manufacturing processes in the United States cleaner, launching several programs and incentives designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the sector.

The effort aligns with the Biden administration’s strategy of using federal procurement as an incentive for environmentally friendly company policies, as well as a number of previously announced goals to reduce emissions at the federal level. The White House has set a goal of having the federal government get its electricity from carbon-free sources on a net annual basis by 2030 and cutting its emissions by 65 percent by this year. Other benchmarks include ceasing the purchase of gasoline-powered vehicles for federal agencies by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050.

The White House says the initiative aims to reduce emissions in the industrial sector, which it says is responsible for one-third of all domestic emissions. It also intends to encourage the low-carbon production of aluminum and steel for products designed to address climate change, including wind turbines, solar panels, and electric cars.

The efforts have already seen some pushback. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has indicated that he plans to replace the U.S. Postal Service’s fleet with gas-powered vehicles rather than electric ones unless the federal government provides further funding to the service.

A key part of the administration’s push is an effort to encourage the development and use of clean hydrogen, which it says offers the potential to develop lower-emission processes in areas like steel production that have been regarded as more difficult to shift to cleaner methods. The Department of Energy is dedicating $8 billion for Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs to advance the production, processing, delivery, storage, and end-use of clean hydrogen; $1 billion for the Clean Hydrogen Electrolysis Program to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of methods to split hydrogen from water; and $500 million for research and development activities to manufacture and recycle clean hydrogen.

The White House says it has also established a Buy Clean Task Force to leverage the federal government’s $650 billion buying power to give consideration to companies using low-carbon materials and methods. The Department of Transportation and General Services Administration are promoting the use of these processes and products in projects to be funded through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Another initiative will expand a similar effort known as the First Movers Coalition, which was launched at the COP26 conference to encourage businesses to use their purchasing power to support clean goods. The expansion covers the additional sectors of cement, aluminum, chemicals, and carbon removal.

The White House says it is working to advance carbon-based trade policies to incentivize clean steel and aluminum, including working with the European Union to align trade policies with climate goals. The Council on Environmental Quality has also issued new guidance on carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration.

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