WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, November 15, 2023, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing to explore opportunities for decarbonizing heavy industry, the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in our nation’s economy.
Below is the opening statement of Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:
“Today’s hearing is focused on the next frontier of tackling the climate crisis — decarbonizing the industrial sector of our economy.
“Our hearing today is timely. Yesterday, the Biden Administration issued the fifth National Climate Assessment, which underscored the urgency of addressing climate change and the benefits of doing so. The report found that — adjusting for inflation — in the 1980s, the United States experienced one billion-dollar disaster every four months, on average. Now, there is one every three weeks. The report also found that if we are going to limit the increase of global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, our country must reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
“So, why should we focus on reducing industrial emissions? To answer that question, let me begin by sharing the age-old story of Willie Sutton, who, as many of you will recall, was a notorious bank robber during the Great Depression. In fact, he robbed a lot of banks. At his trial, the judge famously asked him, ‘Mr. Sutton, why do you rob banks?’ He replied, ‘Because that’s where the money is.’ And, we can apply that same logic in today’s hearing.
“Heavy industry makes products that are central to our lives, including steel, cement, and aluminum. At the same time, the industrial sector is responsible for nearly one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions and represents the third largest source of U.S. emissions — trailing only the transportation and power sectors. By 2030, the industrial sector is expected to become the largest source of domestic greenhouse gas emissions.
“As many of us know, there are real challenges when it comes to decarbonizing the industrial sector. For example, because of the diverse industrial processes we use to make a variety of goods and materials, there isn’t a simple one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, we must deploy a variety of different technologies and process changes.
“Yet, within these challenges also lies real opportunity. In addition to helping us meet our climate goals, reducing industrial emissions presents great opportunities to invest in American industry and boost our nation’s economic competitiveness. The benefits of decarbonizing key industrial materials go beyond simply mitigating emissions at individual facilities.
“By producing materials in cleaner ways, we can reduce emissions throughout supply chains. And, by investing in the industries that are producing lower carbon materials for our buildings, roads, and electric vehicles, we can help support our clean energy transition.
“Fortunately, when it comes to decarbonizing the industrial sector of our economy, we are already making progress. That is thanks in no small part to the investments that Congress made in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and in the Inflation Reduction Act.
“For example, our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law established the new Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations at the Department of Energy, which included a new Industrial Demonstrations Program. Last Congress, we provided $6.3 billion in funding to this program to help deploy technologies to reduce industrial emissions.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also included $8 billion for the development of regional clean hydrogen hubs throughout our country. I was especially pleased that DOE awarded funding to the Mid-Atlantic Clean Hydrogen Hub project in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Our hub was one of seven clean hydrogen hubs, including the Appalachian Hydrogen Hub in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and our Ranking Member’s state of West Virginia.
“These clean hydrogen hubs will provide a reliable supply of clean hydrogen for transportation, industrial processes, and power generation across our nation. And, they will create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs in our regions.
“As the largest purchaser of materials in the world, the federal government also has a great opportunity to foster demand for low-embodied carbon materials through federal procurement. We can and we are.
“In our committee’s title of the Inflation Reduction Act, we provided over $5 billion for the Federal Highway Administration and the General Services Administration to buy materials — such as concrete and steel — for buildings, roads, and bridges made with lower carbon emissions. We also included funding for the EPA to help us better understand the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of various construction materials and products.
“Supporting American ingenuity and innovators is key to creating cleaner goods here at home, and we will hear about that today.
“In closing, the United States can continue to manufacture steel, aluminum, concrete, and other materials while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. By doing so, we can make American industry more competitive on the global stage while addressing climate pollution and creating good-paying jobs.
“To do this, we need collaboration across sectors and stakeholders. Industry leaders, innovative start-ups, government agencies, environmental organizations, and academia must all work together.
“My hope is that today’s hearing will help us further our committee’s understanding of some of the challenges and opportunities associated with decarbonizing heavy industry. We look forward to hearing from our panel of knowledgeable witnesses and to having a productive and spirited discussion today.”