Senate Committee Hearing on Industrial Decarbonization Demonstrates How Better Emissions Data Will Benefit American Manufacturing

Environment & Public Works Committee holds hearing on “Opportunities in Industrial Decarbonization:

Ginny Cleaveland, Deputy Press Secretary, Federal Communications,, 415-508-8498 (Pacific Time)

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, hours before U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping met to restart talks on a variety of issues, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works held a hearing on “Opportunities in Industrial Decarbonization: Delivering Benefits for the Economy and the Climate.” The committee is led by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE). Panelists included representatives from Breakthrough Energy, a program founded by Bill Gates that accelerates sustainable energy innovations; Sublime Systems, a company developing technology to manufacture low-carbon cement; and the Clean Hydrogen Future Coalition, which promotes hydrogen.

During questioning, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) asked Dr. Abigail Regitsky of Breakthrough Energy about the Sierra Club’s recent report, “Coming Clean on Industrial Emissions,” which Regitsky cited in her testimony. The report, which reveals the greenhouse gas emissions intensity at every domestic facility in the U.S. producing steel, cement, aluminum, and metallurgical coke, also showcases existing low-carbon practices at the best performing domestic facilities. The report underscores the importance of federal investments in these sectors critical to the U.S. economy to protect good jobs by reducing emissions.

In response to the hearing, Harry Manin, Deputy Legislative Director for Industrial Policy and Trade at the Sierra Club, issue the following statement:

"At today’s hearing, senators came together to contend that U.S. industrial competitiveness is a paramount concern. Senators and expert witnesses agreed that decarbonization is key to propel domestic manufacturing, and that industrial investments and environmental protections can help clean up production, keep jobs in the U.S., and fight global climate change.

With the European Union set to tax and restrict U.S. exports based on carbon intensity, the Sierra Club is happy to see a bipartisan group of senators working together to ensure industrial climate breakthroughs are made in the U.S. In addition to these breakthroughs, climate-forward trade policy and an expansion of the Federal Buy Clean Initiative will reward domestic manufacturers for producing premium goods with low-carbon techniques. A Sierra Club report suggests that manufacturers have already unlocked low-carbon techniques, which the Buy Clean Initiative will make more profitable while larger breakthroughs await demonstration.

The Sierra Club calls on steel and iron, aluminum, cement, glass, and asphalt manufacturers to access the $350 million made available by the EPA to verify their low-carbon production, and challenges the Senate to pass additional bipartisan policies that make clear America’s carbon advantage over foreign competitors. By creating a domestic market for low-carbon goods, the U.S. will go on to be a leader in the international trade of industrial products.” 


The committee hearing focused on several topics including how investments via the Federal Buy Clean Initiative are helping keep manufacturing jobs and production in the U.S., and how clear industrial emissions data and product labeling will ensure that the U.S. has a competitive advantage over foreign competitors and bad actors like China. Below are some key quotes from witnesses.

On the Buy Clean initiative’s potential to spur domestic innovation:

“The public sector has a unique ability to accelerate cement’s decarbonization. Collectively, it deploys 60% of the cement used in America through the building of public infrastructure…  Both the General Services Administration and Federal Highways Administration have recently allotted billions to the use of low-carbon construction materials. [Cement innovators have] already noticed increasing customer interest in response to these policies. We urge Congress to consider making such initiatives permanent,” said Dr. Leah Ellis, co-founder and CEO at Sublime Systems. 

On using emissions data and product labeling to become more competitive globally:

“Data is the first piece of the puzzle to start in proving that much of U.S. production is more emission efficient than other countries, especially countries we are importing our goods from. The data allows us to transparently report the competitive carbon advantage of U.S. production … and respond as other countries think about their own policies. For example, the European Union is starting to implement their own [fee on carbon embodied in imports] ... Looking at the U.S. import into the EU versus China’s import of the EU, which is more carbon intensive, the U.S. stands to gain market share in the EU market with the EU regulation in place. Having [data transparency] will enable us to ensure that when these policies that other countries put in place come into fruition we can make sure they are fair and accurately representing the low emissions intensity of the U.S. market,” said Dr. Abigail Regitsky, Senior Manager of U.S. Policy & Advocacy, Breakthrough Energy. 

On the Sierra Club’s “Coming Clean on Industrial Emissions” report:

“This was a really groundbreaking study that was conducted because of the facility-level data that it provides. Of course, these are just estimates. These are actually very difficult numbers to get to have production data from facilities. But what these estimates start providing us is to really have a granular view of the performance of different facilities so we can get an idea of what the average performance is, how well the top performing facilities are doing, and how well the bottom performing facilities are doing. And these are all existing facilities. So by looking at that difference, you can see what's already possible, even just using the best available technology today, and where those kind of near term emission reductions are possible,” said Dr. Abigail Regitsky, Senior Manager of U.S. Policy & Advocacy, Breakthrough Energy.

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit