Climate law is a ‘game changer’ for highways and bridges

Manufacturing the concrete and asphalt needed to build the country’s bridges and highways is a dirty business: The companies that make these materials produce so many emissions that they warm the planet.

However, some of that infrastructure can soon be rebuilt and repaired with greener materials, if the allocations are in Inflation reduction law Work as intended.

The sprawling legislation, which President Biden signed into law last month, builds on investments in last year’s trillion-dollar infrastructure bill with programs to cut carbon emissions in US factories.

“These investments are a game changer for road and bridge manufacturing,” said Ben Beachy, vice president of manufacturing and industrial policy at BlueGreen Alliance, a partnership of unions and environmental organizations.

Through a combination of tax credits and direct financing, including nearly $6 billion to help reduce emissions in factories, the Inflation Reduction Act aims to increase the supply of sustainable materials used in infrastructure projects.

The package also seeks to create demand for cleaner products by allocating more than $5 billion to federal agencies to purchase low-carbon materials for their projects. Proponents believe these programs will push manufacturers to cut emissions so that their products are eligible for purchase.

Taken together, these and other provisions in the legislation are intended to persuade manufacturers that are cutting their emissions to stay the course and incentivize others to join the low-carbon programme.

“It’s really an industrial revolution,” said Sarah Baldwin, policy director at Energy Innovation, a think-tank.

But experts say success will depend on how the new software rules are written and implemented.

Focusing on heavy industry is critical if the US is to meet Biden’s goal of halving emissions from their 2005 levels by the end of the decade.

The industrial sector is responsible for about A third of US emissionsindustrial emissions It is expected to riseThe sector has become the largest producer of greenhouse gases during the decadeAccording to Rhodium Group Modeling, a research and consulting firm.

But industry experts say retooling plants to cut emissions can be costly, and the concrete, steel and asphalt industries could be slow to change.

These industries have made some progress in cutting emissions: Concrete companies I worked to reduce the amount Cement is in their recipes, the biggest contaminant in those mixes. Asphalt companies are reducing binders, residue from petroleum refining, and ramping up the use of recycled asphalt. Most steel manufacturers have installed electric furnaces.

But the Inflation Reduction Act — which has earmarked $370 billion for climate and clean energy programs — encourages them to do more.

The $5.8 billion legislation for the Advanced Manufacturing Fund aims to help accelerate decarbonization of industrial facilities. The law singles out energy-intensive industries, including steel and concrete, as potential beneficiaries.

The funding, which will be distributed by the Department of Energy’s new Office of Clean Energy Bidding, will include grants and loans, and industry members are looking to make the money.

“We already have contractors calling me and saying how we can get to this,” said Jay Hansen, executive vice president of advocacy at the National Asphalt Pavement Association.

A concrete plant, for example, might use the money to install a silo to store bits of recycled glass, which can be added to mixtures to reduce the amount of cement required. Lionel Lemay, who leads the Structures and Sustainability Division at the National Precast Concrete Association, said the silo could cost $100,000 to $150,000.

Eco Material Technologies, which markets fly ash, a by-product of coal-burning plants, to concrete manufacturers as an alternative to some cement in their mixes, has funding for a green cement production plant, Grant Kwacha said. He added that building a factory could cost between $30 and $50 million.

The Inflation Control Act also expands eligibility for tax credits to install emissions-reduction equipment in factories. One program offers credits for decarbonization projects that reduce emissions by at least 20 percent. Another relates to technology that captures carbon dioxide before it enters the atmosphere. With cement, carbon emissions come not only from burning fossil fuels to provide energy and heat but also from chemical processes that turn limestone into a component known as clinker.

“These credits are very valuable for keeping the cost of technology low,” said Randolph Kirschen, co-director of the Center for Concrete Sustainability, an industry-funded group at MIT.

On the demand side, the law allocates about $5.5 billion across federal agencies — including $2 billion for the Federal Highway Administration — to purchase low-carbon materials for transportation and other projects.

Funding is in line with Clean buy strategy adopted by the Biden administration.

Some states, such as California, already have “clean purchasing” requirements that include emissions restrictions in the manufacture of materials for public sector projects. But the Biden administration has sought to use the massive purchasing power of the federal government – the government spends more than $650 billion annually on goods and services – to push US industry onto a path of decarbonization.

The Council on Environmental Quality and the White House Office of Local Climate Policy created a “Buy Clean Task Force”, which will announce executive actions in early fall, followed by policy guidelines.

Some federal agencies have already begun setting their own emissions standards. In March, the General Services Administration issued New requirements for concrete and asphalt for future improvements to land ports of entry along the northern and southern borders.

The Inflation Control Act will help manufacturers with the paperwork required to qualify for such projects. The legislation allocates $250 million to the Environmental Protection Agency for a program to help manufacturers develop environmental product advertisements — third-party certified documents that summarize the effects of substances on the environment, including their emissions.

Advertisements are becoming more and more common in real estate projects as developers and architects seek to reduce the carbon footprint of their buildings. The new federal program could help public sector infrastructure projects catch up.

“It’s the beginning of a complete market change,” said Sasha Staschwick, director of the Industrial Policy, Climate and Clean Energy Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

New legislation will Reduce industrial emissions from 3 to 16 percent by 2030According to the calculations of the Rhodium group. The Advanced Manufacturing Fund alone is estimated to reduce nearly 70 million metric tons of climate pollution annually, according to analysis by the BlueGreen Alliance — an amount equal to the pollution generated by nearly 15 million gasoline cars annually, EPA analysis shows.

However, getting concrete mixers and flatbed trucks to move cleaner materials will take time. Some relatively quick and easy repairs can be made in plants to reduce energy use, and therefore emissions, but more transformative changes could take years or even decades and will depend on how the provisions of the new law are implemented.

“The money is good and the legislation, as you read it, is great,” said Sean O’Neill, senior vice president for government affairs at the Portland Cement Association. “More steps need to be taken to ensure that projects are indeed moving forward.”

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