Sierra Club Endorses Bill Accelerating Development of Clean Concrete and Asphalt

Coons, Tillis bill directs resources to R&D, advances grants and government purchasing authority
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Ginny Cleaveland, Deputy Press Secretary, Federal Communications, ginny.cleaveland@sierraclub.org, 415-508-8498 (Pacific Time)

WASHINGTON, DC — The Sierra Club has endorsed a bill introduced today by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) called the Concrete and Asphalt Innovation Act of 2023. The bill would direct federal resources to accelerate research, development, demonstration, and commercialization of low-emissions concrete and asphalt technologies.

The bill addresses barriers to innovation, finance, and marketability of clean concrete and asphalt. In addition to the core research, development, and demonstration objectives, the bill leverages the federal government’s purchasing power to support the deployment of low-emissions concrete and asphalt. Importantly, if enacted, the bill would tackle not only the full lifecycle emissions heating the planet, but also the industry’s co-pollutants that harm human health along the entire value chain. 

The bill would create two institutes to support the development and testing of these materials, provide performance-based grants for materials through the Federal Highway Administration, authorize the Transportation Secretary to make advanced purchase commitments of these materials, and form an interagency task force to support continuous innovation and ensure there is a trained workforce to guarantee enduring domestic production.

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

“The Concrete and Asphalt Innovation Act of 2023 marks a major step forward in decarbonizing industry. On a bipartisan basis, Senators Coons and Tillis have identified that making low-emissions breakthroughs in the U.S. and deploying them at scale constitute a climate, economic, and foreign policy victory. Critically, the legislation harnesses the government’s massive purchasing power to create a market for clean concrete and asphalt. In doing so, the bill supercharges government support by signaling to lenders and investors that innovative companies deserve private capital.”

RELATED BILLS

Sen. Coons' and Sen. Tillis’ Concrete and Asphalt Innovation Act of 2023 follows the introduction of Sen. Coons’ and Sen. Cramer’s (R-ND) PROVE IT Act in June, which could set the stage for U.S. industry to be rewarded for its environmental performance beyond that of foreign competitors. 

After the PROVE IT Act’s release, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the Foreign Pollution Fee Act in early November, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) introduced the Clean Competition Act in early December. Both bills would benefit domestic producers and combat climate change by placing fees on imports of goods across the energy and industrial sectors based on their pollution intensity relative to the U.S. average.

BACKGROUND

A recent report, database, and interactive map commissioned by the Sierra Club reveals for the first time the greenhouse gas emissions intensity at every domestic facility in the US for four heavy industries: steel, cement, aluminum, and metallurgical coke, underscoring the importance of federal investments in these critical sectors to the US economy that will both grow employment and reduce pollution.

The report, “Coming Clean on Industrial Emissions”, also profiles the fenceline communities living near these facilities, examines the public health impact of these sectors, and details employment figures at each facility. Learn more at sierraclub.org/trade/climate-jobs-american-industries. 

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 www.sierraclub.org.