Cement Industry Seeks Policy Support for Long-Term Carbon Neutrality Goals
Ensuring the cement industry’s sustainability and commitment to reducing CO2 emissions remains a top priority for Congress. Member companies of the Portland Cement Association (PCA), representing the majority of U.S. cement manufacturers, recently visited Washington to engage with Congressional offices and federal agencies. The purpose of their visit was to outline crucial policy steps needed to support the industry’s efforts in cutting long-term CO2 emissions. With the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) gaining momentum and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) under scrutiny, the cement industry seeks policy support to achieve its carbon neutrality goals and contribute to the nation’s climate and infrastructure ambitions.
A Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality
The cement industry is currently implementing PCA’s Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality, a comprehensive plan that offers a range of actions and options for the cement-concrete-construction value chain to achieve net-zero emissions. However, many of these actions require policy support to be effectively implemented. Therefore, PCA and its members have highlighted several recommendations to Congress and federal agencies during their visit:
- Advancing Permitting Reform: PCA urges the implementation of vital permitting reforms that enable members to meet their carbon neutrality goals, particularly in adopting carbon capture technology. By streamlining the permitting process, cement manufacturers can more effectively invest in and deploy innovative technologies to reduce emissions.
- Promoting Alternative Fuels: Removing regulatory barriers to the use of alternative fuels in cement plants is crucial for reducing CO2 emissions. Increasing the use of alternative fuels would not only contribute to environmental sustainability but also enhance the industry’s overall resilience.
- Maintaining Buy America Exemptions: The cement industry calls for the preservation of industry exemptions for Buy America provisions in the IIJA. These exemptions are essential to ensure a steady supply of high-quality cement materials while supporting the legislation’s original intent.
- Reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): It is imperative to reauthorize the FAA before September 30, 2023, to ensure continued progress in aviation infrastructure and safety. A robust FAA reauthorization will enable the cement industry to play its part in sustainable aviation development.
- Supporting Carbon Capture Technologies: The industry emphasizes the importance of sustained funding for the Department of Energy’s research, design, and deployment of carbon capture technologies. Continued investment in these technologies will accelerate progress toward carbon neutrality.
Congress’s Crucial Role
Mike Ireland, President and CEO of PCA, emphasizes the critical role Congress plays in helping the cement industry achieve its sustainability goals. Passing landmark legislation such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act reflects Congress’s recognition of cement’s vital role in long-term climate and infrastructure ambitions. However, carbon neutrality cannot be achieved without the industry receiving support from Congress in the form of appropriate policies. The success of the cement industry’s sustainability efforts is interconnected with Congress’s commitment to fostering a sustainable future.
The Importance of Cement in the U.S. Economy
Concrete, which relies on cement as a key ingredient, is essential to the American built environment. Approximately 260 million cubic yards of concrete are used annually in the United States. The cement, concrete, and related industries provide direct and indirect employment to nearly 600,000 individuals and contribute over $130 billion to the U.S. economy each year. As new federally funded infrastructure projects, aligned with sustainability goals, will add an additional 46 million tons of cement through the IIJA, the need to reduce emissions from the construction sector becomes more pressing.
A Commitment to Sustainability
The cement industry has already made significant progress in reducing its emissions, currently accounting for just 1.25 percent of U.S. CO2 emissions. Nonetheless, PCA continues to educate Congress and federal agencies on the industry’s commitment to sustainability and its potential to further reduce emissions even as demand for cement increases. Through ongoing dialogue and advocacy, PCA aims to foster a deeper understanding of the innovative technologies, best practices, and policy support required to achieve carbon neutrality throughout the entire cement-concrete-construction value chain. By emphasizing the importance of collaborative efforts and the need for targeted policies, PCA strives to ensure that the cement industry remains at the forefront of environmental stewardship while supporting the nation’s economic growth and infrastructure development.