Department of Energy announces largest-ever investment to decarbonize industry

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WASHINGTON − The Energy Department announced up to $6 billion Monday for 33 projects across more than 20 states to decarbonize energy-intensive industries and reduce industrial greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm told reporters in a call ahead of the announcement that when factoring in the companies’ share in the projects, the initiative's total investment would amount to $20 billion.

“These projects offer solutions to slash emissions in some of the highest-emitting sectors of our economy, including iron and steel and aluminum, cement, concrete chemicals, food and beverages, pulp and paper,” she said. “And together these industries make up roughly a third of our CO2 emissions of our carbon footprint.”

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm
U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm

Billed as the 'largest-ever investment' in decarbonizing industry, the projects, funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act, will eliminate 14 million metric tons of pollution each year, according to the Department of Energy.

“That's equivalent to taking about 3 million gas-powered cars off the road,” Granholm said.

In Ravenswood, West Virginia, for instance, Constellium, a manufacturer of aluminum products, will deploy a first-of-its-kind zero-carbon aluminum casting plant and could get up to $75 million in federal funding. The aluminum rolling facility, which is one of the largest in the world, supplies material to the aerospace, defense, marine and transportation sectors.

Kraft Heinz, the multinational food company that makes Mac and Cheese, will get up to $170.9 million to upgrade and electrify and decarbonize food production at 10 facilities nationwide, including in Holland, Michigan.

“It takes a whole lot of heat to dry all that macaroni, which produces a whole lot of emissions,” Granholm said. “And so this project is going to deploy clean tech like heat pumps and electric heaters and electric boilers to slash those emissions by 99%.”

The energy secretary will be traveling to Middletown, Ohio, to make the announcement on Monday. She’ll visit Cleveland-Cliffs Steel Corp., America’s largest flat-rolled-steel producer, where the company will be retiring a blast furnace and install two electric furnaces. The project will receive up to $500 million in federal funding.

“This will slash emissions at the facility by 1 million tons of greenhouse gases each year, which means cleaner water, cleaner air for the Middletown community,” she said.

Nearly 80% of the projects are located in a disadvantaged community, as defined by President Joe Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, offering a significant opportunity to invest in good jobs and clean air in communities that have experienced years of divestment, the department notes.

For instance the Cleveland-Cliffs project anticipates creating 170 permanent jobs and 1,200 temporary union construction jobs while preserving the site’s existing 2,500 jobs − including 2,000 International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers.

Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy is a White House Correspondent for USA TODAY. You can follow her on X @SwapnaVenugopal

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: $6 billion: 'Largest-ever' investment in decarbonizing industries