On Wednesday afternoon, Joe Quinn, Vice President of SAFE’s Center for Strategic Industrial Materials spoke on Capitol Hill at a panel hosted by the Sierra Club. The conversation focused on the importance of increasing domestic heavy manufacturing pursuant to the United States’ national security goals. Other expert panelists included Dr. Abigail Regitsky, Senior Manager of U.S. Policy and Advocacy at Breakthrough Energy; Xan Fishman, Senior Director of Energy for the Bipartisan Policy Center; and Jason Walsh, Executive Director of BlueGreen Alliance. Opening remarks were made by Representatives Suzan DelBene (D-WA-1), Kathy Castor (D-FL-14), and Ro Khanna (D-CA-17). Congressional staff and members of the press attended the event.
The Members of Congress and panelists alike agreed that the Inflation Reduction Act, while not a silver bullet solution, was a critical first step towards reindustrializing American manufacturing and reinvigorating U.S. market competitiveness. Congressman Khanna stressed, “Clean steel and aluminum is what is going to give America a competitive edge” over other countries like China and India.
Expert panelists detailed what more must be done to secure supply chains, decarbonize industry, and protect the U.S. economy. SAFE VP Joe Quinn used the U.S. aluminum industry as an example of how and why the U.S. and its allies need secure supply chains.
“U.S. aluminum supply on its best day is only a sixth of demand, and IRA is only driving demand higher.” Looking forward at possible solutions, Quinn stated, “The aluminum problem will only be solved with an energy solution to make the energy input more affordable and accessible to the industry.”
Policies specifically mentioned include OCED and DPA Title III funding through the Department of Energy, which could buy down the cost of input energy and increase profits. This would keep American industry strong in a market environment dominated by strategic competitors that flood global markets with cheap, high-emitting alternatives. Quinn emphasized, “Like alumina, gallium, and germanium, aluminum is a dual-use material vital to both defense applications and the clean energy transition.
As we look ahead, pending legislation like the Clean Competition Act, introduced in the House by Bipartisan Aluminum Caucus Co-Chair Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, would build on the successes of IRA to continue prioritizing clean, domestic manufacturing. Quinn concluded, “Federal policies are needed to address both energy supply and manufacturing needs.”