Aluminum Association lays out industry policy priorities for new Biden administration

The Aluminum Association has released a series of policy documents laying out priorities to support the US aluminium industry. The Presidential Policy Brief: Recommendations for a Strong U.S. Aluminum Industry includes several recommendations for the incoming Biden administration and Congress to support a growing and vibrant aluminium sector in the United States. An addendum to the industry’s Aluminum Agenda released in 2019, the brief includes key policy goals in the areas of the Energy, Environment, Infrastructure, Recycling and Trade.

“We congratulate President Biden and look forward to working with him and his team in the coming months and years,” said Tom Dobbins, president and CEO of the Aluminum Association. “During this challenging time for our nation, it is critically important that we all work together toward renewal and recovery. A strong and growing domestic aluminium industry can play a role in the American comeback story.”

In remarks at an aluminium plant in Manitowoc, WI during the presidential election campaign, President Biden noted how aluminium is a key part of future infrastructure development and addressing climate change, saying: “That means American aluminium for infrastructure, for developing more wind and solar and hydroelectric power, for electric vehicles that will replace cars in the federal fleet.”

The Presidential Policy Brief further details how to make these ambitions a reality through smart and constructive public policy:

  • Energy: As a lightweight, durable and infinitely recyclable material, aluminium is part of a suite of solutions for 21st century energy challenges. Both Congress, the Biden administration and state governments have an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through research and investment on production, recycling and use of aluminium.
  • Environment: Aluminium producers have voluntarily worked to reduce their environmental impact and to cut greenhouse gas emissions from North American primary production by nearly half since 1991, work previously recognised by the Environmental Protection Agency. Smart climate change policy should work to reduce emissions at home while avoiding jobs “leakage” to overseas countries with more lax environmental enforcement.
  • Infrastructure: The US aluminium industry strongly supports increased public and private infrastructure investment and incentives for operational efficiencies and sustainable material choices. It has a role to play in policies around electric grid modernisation, electric vehicle infrastructure, public transportation building construction and recycling infrastructure revitalisation.
  • Recycling: While the aluminium used for cars, buildings and similar industrial applications is typically recycled at rates exceeding 90%, aluminium used consumer applications is recycled at far lower rates — which is bad for the economy and the environment. The Aluminum Association supports policies like a recycling infrastructure fund and well-designed container deposit programs to increase consumer recycling.
  • Trade: The single biggest threat to US aluminium remains unfairly subsidised overcapacity in China. Strong, targeted trade enforcement is vital to the industry’s ability to compete on a market-based, level playing field. The Aluminum Association says it supports renewed cooperation with traditional trading partners and allies to address this perennial issue.

Last year, the Aluminum Association released new economic data showing largely steady jobs and economic impact for the aluminium industry in the United States over the last decade. In total, the US aluminium industry supports nearly 660,000 total jobs (166,000 direct) and nearly $172 billion in total economic output ($70 billion direct). Modelling through the third quarter of 2020 suggested that Covid-19 driven economic disruptions likely reduced jobs and output about 11%.

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