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US announces $6 billion to clean up heavy manufacturing

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The first new US aluminum smelter in 45 years may be built as part of about $6 billion in grants the Biden administration is awarding to companies in a bid to clean up hard-to-decarbonize industries including metal, paper and glass.The money will be aimed at industries that account for nearly a quarter of US emissions, but are challenging and expensive to shift to lower-carbon technologies
Century Aluminum Co., once a central beneficiary of former President Donald Trump’s trade war, is set to receive as much as $500 million in funding to build the facility, according to a statement Monday. That would double the size of the nation’s current domestic production of the energy-intensive metal while also reducing emissions by an estimated 75%.
Domestic production of aluminum, used in solar panels, semiconductors and fighter jets, has been steadily declining for years. That’s happened even has demand increased, partly thanks to President Joe Biden’s signature climate law that’s lifted consumption of materials needed for the energy transition.
“It is difficult to overstate the significance of what this award will mean for the domestic aluminum industry,” said Joe Quinn, a vice president with SAFE, a Washington think-tank that advocates for US energy independence.
“A new domestic smelter puts the US back in the game and reverses our dangerous, decades-long decline in primary aluminum production,” Quinn said.
The project is one of 33 set to receive grants worth as much as $500 million each as part of an Energy Department program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in energy intensive manufacturing industries, as well as revitalize industrial communities and strengthen US manufacturing competitiveness.
The money will be aimed at industries that account for nearly a quarter of US emissions, but are challenging and expensive to shift to lower-carbon technologies. Cleaning up these sectors will be critical if the White House wants to meet its goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030 and achieve net zero by mid-century.

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