Department of Energy Unveils $6 Billion in Funding to Reduce Industrial Emissions

By Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch
Mar 25 2024 |
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, pictured center, meets with Cleveland-Cliffs Chairman, President and CEO Lourenco Goncalves and Cleveland-Cliffs employees at the Middletown Works facility on Monday. Photo courtesy Jennifer Granholm on X, formerly Twitter

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced the new funding at a Cleveland-Cliffs plant in Ohio. The company could receive up to $575 million to lower emissions at two of its facilities.

The Biden administration announced Monday that it will provide $6 billion in funding to 33 projects across the United States to help “decarbonize energy-intensive industries, reduce industrial greenhouse gas emissions, support good-paying union jobs, revitalize industrial communities, and strengthen the nation’s manufacturing competitiveness.”

The projects are expected to reduce “the equivalent of more than 14 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions each year,” which roughly amounts to the annual emissions of 3 million gas-powered cars, according to the Department of Energy. All of the projects were chosen for their potential to be first-in-the-nation models that can be replicated at other sites across the country.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced the new funding during a visit to the Cleveland-Cliffs Middletown Works plant in Ohio, where she toured the facility and met with workers. Cleveland-Cliffs was selected to receive potentially $575 million in funding to reduce emissions at both its Middletown Works and Butler Works plant in Pennsylvania.

Cleveland-Cliffs already is an industry leader in reducing carbon emissions. The company has significantly reduced emissions and has invested heavily to update its facilities to become more environmentally friendly. For example, the company’s $1 billion Direct Reduction Plant in Toledo is designed to eventually run on hydrogen, replacing natural gas and potentially reduce the plant’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1 million metric tons a year.

The investments announced on Monday will further help Cleveland-Cliffs drive down emissions, said Lourenco Goncalves, the company’s chairman, president, and chief executive officer. He said in a statement:

“The investment at Middletown Works is confirmation that Cleveland-Cliffs is the benchmark for iron and steelmaking technology in the world, ahead of Japan, Korea, Europe, and China. Our experience in using natural gas has seamlessly catalyzed our transition into using hydrogen. Middletown and Butler Works are both critically important to the success of Cleveland-Cliffs and the industrial might of the United States. Both plants support good-paying, middle-class union jobs. We appreciate the Biden Administration’s shared belief that union jobs are essential for continued success of manufacturing, supply chains, infrastructure, and defense in the United States. In addition, these projects have remarkably strong IRR’s and short payback periods. The Department of Energy has facilitated a perfect situation for our union workforce, our decarbonization endeavors, our communities in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and our shareholders.”

Aside from the two Cleveland-Cliffs projects, the Department of Energy announced funding for a variety of sectors across the country, including seven chemicals and refining projects; six cement and concrete projects; five aluminum and metals projects; three food and beverage projects; three glass projects, two process heat-focused projects; and one pulp and paper project.  

Each project is expected to eventually implement a Community Benefits Plan that “ensures meaningful community and labor engagement,” the Department of Energy noted. Nearly 80% are “located in a disadvantaged community,” which will offer “a significant opportunity to invest in good jobs and clean air in communities that have experienced years of divestment.”

Learn more about the funding here.