Federal Policy Recommendations for Economic Recovery and Emissions Reductions in Industry

(Washington, D.C.) – The Industrial Innovation Initiative, an ambitious coalition of key industrial and power companies, environmental organizations, and state officials from Midwestern and Gulf Coast states focused on decarbonization solutions for the region’s most important industrial sectors, submitted recommendations to Congress today outlining measures for consideration in COVID-19-related federal economic recovery legislation.

“The industrial sector is a pivotal economic driver in the American heartland,” said Brad Crabtree, Vice President for Carbon Management at the Great Plains Institute, “These recommendations focus on fostering recovery from COVID-19 through federal investments that spur economic activity and create and maintain jobs in the near term while putting American industry on a longer-term path to deep emissions reductions, high-wage jobs, technology leadership, and economic competitiveness.”

The effects of COVID-19 on the industrial sector are profound. Demand has declined for many commodity products due to a lack of travel and a decrease in business and consumer confidence and purchasing, leading to widespread plant closures and other significant financial and operational consequences for U.S. industry.

At the same time, industrial emissions constitute approximately one-third of global and one-third of U.S. carbon emissions when considering the direct and indirect emissions from electricity used by industry. Without concerted action, industrial emissions are expected to continue increasing globally over the coming decades once economies begin to recover from the pandemic. However, development and broader commercial deployment of emerging and established technologies and processes could enable deep emissions reductions in the sector, while preserving and growing U.S. industrial production and associated employment and tax base in the wake of COVID-19.

The recommendations aim to incentivize investment in low-carbon technologies, processes, products, and markets within the industrial sector, including: low- and zero-carbon heat; carbon capture, transport, utilization, and geologic storage; energy efficiency; and other innovative industrial applications and practices that can reduce emissions well below current best practices.

“Although every industrial sector is unique, each has experienced the effects of COVID-19 and is grappling with economic retrenchment and job losses caused by the pandemic. By bringing multiple industries together during this time, eight priority policies emerged that not only have the potential to foster a robust economic and jobs recovery, but also position American industry longer-term to meet midcentury emissions reduction goals,” said Nicholas Bianco, Deputy Director, World Resources Institute United States.

The Initiative’s federal economic recovery recommendations include:

  • Allow a direct pay option for energy efficiency, clean energy and industrial tax credits that target industrial carbon emissions reductions;
  • Eliminate 45Q tax credit eligibility thresholds for industrial facilities and carbon utilization projects, which deter technology innovation and emissions reductions;
  • Authorize funds for a temporarily expanded U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) cost-share program for commercial-scale technology demonstrations, front-end engineering and design studies, and saline geologic storage sites;
  • Enhance financial support for early-stage deployment of clean industrial technologies by removing barriers to the Title 17 DOE loan guarantee program, and revise eligibility criteria to include key industrial technologies;
  • Lower the cost of investing in new production lines for designated clean technologies by renewing and expanding the Section 48C Advanced Manufacturing Tax Credit Program;
  • Enhance technical assistance for the deployment of commercially available industrial decarbonization technologies through DOE’s Better Buildings, Better Plants Initiative;
  • Expand block grant funding for states to support industrial efficiency, with increased funds for states that establish programs to help build market demand for low-carbon products; and
  • Augment investment in research, development, and pre-commercial demonstration (RD&D) of innovative industrial emission reduction technologies.

The listed policy recommendations would provide assistance for breakthrough technologies at all levels of development—from later-stage research and development to commercial-scale deployment—so that technology innovation and project development currently underway are not halted due to the current financial challenges and market uncertainty.

Selected policies were designed to satisfy four criteria: 1) provide near-term potential to drive economic activity and preserve and create well-paying jobs; 2) support investment in and deployment of industrial technologies, processes, and infrastructure that will reduce emissions and enhance competitiveness in a future low-carbon economy; 3) be implemented quickly, relying on existing authority and avoiding the need for further rulemaking or guidance procedures, where possible; and 4) have prospects for broad bipartisan support.

Click here to read the two-page summary of the Initiative’s recommendations.

Click here to read a detailed summary of the Initiative’s recommendations.

Click here to read the Initiative’s letter to Congress

Below are quotes of support from Industrial Innovation Initiative participants:

“In the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the U.S. industrial sector can literally help rebuild our nation’s economy to be stronger, cleaner, and more resilient. Investing in R&D, demonstrating new industrial technologies, and incentivizing manufacturers to improve efficiency and cut carbon are the types of smart policies that can keep American industries and workers competitive through the ups and downs of a global economy for decades to come.” – Josh Freed, Senior Vice President for the Climate and Energy Program, Third Way

“Industrial sources account for a quarter of US greenhouse gas emissions, but largely remain a climate blind spot. Involving complex processes and emissions sources, including in trade-exposed industries, the sector will require a suite of technologies and strategies for decarbonization. In particular, hydrogen, for industrial heat and feed, and carbon capture, for process and other emissions, will be needed at commercial scale. The I3 recommendations emphasize both of these solutions and encompass concrete steps and policy actions paving the way for industrial sector decarbonization on the road to net-zero emissions by mid-century.” – Lee Beck, CCUS Policy Innovation Director, Clean Air Task Force

“Solidia fully supports the recommendations emerging from the important work of the Industrial Innovation Initiative. The work centers on critical topics including energy efficiency, carbon management, and clean industrial technologies, as well as actionable suggestions on how the government and industry can collaborate to advance promising innovations to help solve some of our most pressing climate challenges.” – Bo Boylan, Chief Commercial Officer, Solidia

“As a leading company in the construction materials sector, LafargeHolcim actively encourages Congress to take action on climate change during its next COVID recovery package. Our investments across the United States in wind, solar, energy efficiency, and carbon sequestration are clear examples of our belief that renewable power and innovation are the pathway to decarbonize the sector.” – Jamie Gentoso, Chief Executive Officer, US Cement, LafargeHolcim

“As a nexus of oil and gas producers, industrial consumers, pipeline transporters, and potential geologic storage, Louisiana stands in support of these recommendations. New carbon management incentives and strategies offer a unique opportunity to simultaneously provide benefits to existing industries, developing new technologies and the environment. Rarely do we see such opportunities to balance the needs of energy industry, economic growth, and the environment to such mutual potential benefit. As our state and nation seek to map the path forward once the pandemic conditions have receded, carbon capture, transport, and storage can provide new opportunities for recovery in the energy sector and future growth for the petrochemical industry it supplies. Louisiana is ready to take the next steps in working with our federal and corporate partners to make carbon management a major part of the economic recovery process and future economic development, while still providing new and better protection for the environment we all share.” – Thomas Harris, Secretary of Natural Resources, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources 

“The recommendations released today by the Industrial Innovation Initiative highlight an important fact: that having cleaner air, cleaner water, and tackling climate change can be done in a way that also supports economic growth. This collaboration between corporations, environmental organizations, and state officials, demonstrates that diverse interests can come together to find solutions that tackle near-term economic challenges while still moving us toward the net-zero emissions economy that science says we need to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”
– Anna Dirkswager, Midwest Climate and Energy Policy Adviser for The Nature Conservancy

About Industrial Innovation Initiative (I3): An ambitious coalition bringing together key industrial and power companies, environmental organizations, and state officials from Midwestern and Gulf Coast states. The initiative focuses on decarbonization solutions for the region’s most important industrial sectors and seeks to accelerate the adoption of those solutions through state, regional, and federal policy. I3 is co-convened by the Great Plains Institute (GPI) and the World Resources Institute (WRI).

About Great Plains Institute (GPI): As a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, GPI works with diverse interests to transform the energy system to benefit the economy and environment. We combine our unique consensus-building approach, expert knowledge, research and analysis, and local action to work on solutions that strengthen communities and provide greater economic opportunity through creation of higher paying jobs, expansion of the nation’s industrial base, and greater domestic energy independence while eliminating carbon emissions. Learn more at www.betterenergy.org.

About World Resources Institute (WRI): World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global research organization that spans more than 60 countries, with offices in Africa, Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States. Its more than 1,000 experts and staff work closely with leaders to turn big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being. WRI’s Energy Program has in-depth expertise engaging with utilities to shape renewable energy offerings that meet the needs of buyers. More information on WRI can be found at wri.org or on Twitter @WorldResources.

Media Contacts

Ben Finzel, ben@renewpr.com, 202-277-6286, Great Plains Institute

Rhys Gerholdt, rhys.gerholdt@wri.org, 202-341-1323, World Resources Institute

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Carbon Management Program Associate, GPI

Alana joined GPI in 2024 as a program associate on the Carbon Management team, specifically supporting the Industrial Innovation Initiative, where she helps to advance industrial decarbonization through GPI’s consensus-building approach. Alana previously worked as an account executive at Jamf, where she helped current K-12 education customers improve and scale the management and security of their Apple device deployments. Alana has spent most of her professional years working with Minnesota nonprofits, including two years as an AmeriCorps member with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in community environmental studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Ankita Gangotra, Associate, WRI

Dr. Ankita Gangotra is an Associate in WRI’s US Climate Program, researching avenues to decarbonize the industrial sector, focusing on cement and steel decarbonization, environmental trade policies and international cooperation. Prior to joining WRI, Ankita was a postdoctoral research fellow in the School of Foreign Service and the Department of Physics at Georgetown University. Her research looked at the readily available technology and policy options for upgrading low-carbon cement production in the United States. Ankita has an integrated Master's in Electronics Engineering with Nanotechnology from the University of York, UK (2015) and a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Auckland, New Zealand (2020). During her time in New Zealand, Ankita interned at the Office of the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor looking into equity, diversity and inclusion policy options for New Zealand’s science, research and innovation workforce.

Carrie Dellesky, Program and Outreach Manager, Carbon Removal and Industrial Innovation, WRI

Carrie Dellesky is the Program and Outreach Manager for Carbon Removal and Industrial Innovation. She develops strategies to advance policies and practices for scaling up a suite of carbon removal approaches and decarbonizing the industrial sector. She engages allies and builds and expands partnerships to mobilize champions and enhance visibility, action and impact. She also leads communications to amplify research and thought leadership, including messaging, media relations, event planning, social media and digital strategy.

Zachary Byrum, Research Analyst, WRI

Zachary Byrum is a Research Analyst in WRI's U.S. Climate Program, where he provides technology and policy analysis for carbon removal and deep decarbonization. His work focuses on pathways to reduce industrial emissions as well as bolstering technological carbon removal. Prior to WRI, Zach was a research assistant in the Carbon Management Research Initiative at the Center on Global Energy Policy. In the preceding years, he served as White House Intern in the National Economic Council under the Obama Administration and then an assistant analyst at the Congressional Budget Office. Zach holds a Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from Goucher College.

Katie Lebling, Associate, WRI

Katie Lebling is an Associate in WRI's Climate Program where she works on research and analysis of technological carbon removal approaches and industrial decarbonization. Before joining WRI, she worked at The Asia Group, and interned at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s China Environment Forum and the Treasury Department’s Office of Environment and Energy. She holds a Master's degree from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Energy, Resources, and the Environment, where she spent one year of the program studying in Nanjing, China, and has a B.A. from Colby College in Biology and Chinese language.

Debbie Weyl, Deputy Director, WRI United States

Debbie Karpay Weyl is the Deputy Director for WRI U.S. She previously served as Manager for the Buildings Initiative at WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. She led an expanding global partnership to accelerate building energy efficiency in cities around the world. She also contributed to program management and development, research, and knowledge exchange for urban energy efficiency and sustainability. Debbie joined WRI from CLASP, a global non-profit organization that improves the environmental and energy performance of appliances, lighting and equipment. From 2011-2016 Debbie managed and developed global programs, led research projects, and facilitated collaboration among international experts and other representatives in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Prior to joining CLASP, Debbie worked at the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, where she was a contractor supporting building efficiency and other energy efficiency programs in the United States. Debbie holds a Master of Science in Environment and Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a B.A. in Politics (Political Economy and International Relations) from Princeton University.

Angela Anderson, Director of Industrial Innovation and Carbon Removal, WRI United States

Angela Anderson is the Director of Industrial Innovation and Carbon Removal in the Climate Program. She leads WRI's growing portfolio of work in industrial decarbonization and carbon removal and aims to change narratives around “hard-to-abate” sectors and promote the natural and technological interventions required to achieve net-zero targets. Prior to joining WRI, Angela worked as a program director, coalition builder, international advocate, and campaign strategist. She led the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists for ten years; facilitated US-NGO engagement in the international climate negotiations while at US Climate Action Network and at the Pew Environmental Trust; and founded Clear the Air, a national coalition to reduce pollution from power plants. Angela holds a B.A. in political science from Colorado State University.

Patrice Lahlum, Vice President of Carbon Management, GPI

Patrice Lahlum is the vice president of the Carbon Management program at the Great Plains Institute. The Institute, headquartered in Minneapolis, MN, works with diverse stakeholders and communities across the country to transform the energy system to benefit people, the economy, and the environment. We strive to combine our unique consensus-building approach, expert knowledge and analysis, and local action to promote solutions that strengthen communities, shore up the nation’s industrial base, and enhance domestic energy independence, all while eliminating carbon emissions. Patrice oversees several initiatives including the Carbon Capture Coalition, Industrial Innovation Initiative, Carbon Action Alliance, and the Regional Carbon Capture Deployment Initiative.

Kate Sullivan, Senior Program Coordinator, Carbon Management, GPI

Kate Sullivan joined the Great Plains Institute in 2019. As Senior rogram Coordinator, Kate uses her analytical and design skills to provide research, writing, and logistical support across the Carbon Management team. Prior to joining GPI, Kate worked as an Energy Counselor in the Center for Energy and Environment’s residential department, assisting homeowners with their energy needs and providing resources for efficiency upgrades. Kate earned her BA in Biology from St. Olaf College with an emphasis in Environmental Studies.

David Soll, Industrial Decarbonization Manager, GPI

David Soll joined the Great Plains Institute in 2023 and serves as Industrial Decarbonization Manager. He oversees the Industrial Innovation Initiative, a coalition advancing decarbonization solutions for the Midcontinent region’s most important industrial sectors. Prior to joining GPI, he taught history and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he focused on urban infrastructure and energy conservation. David earned a Master’s in government from the University of Texas at Austin and a PhD in history from Brandeis University.

Jill Syvrud, Senior Program Manager, Carbon Management, GPI

Jill Syvrud joined the Great Plains Institute in 2017 and serves as the program manager for the Carbon Management Program. In addition to overseeing the overall program, Jill directly supports the Industrial Innovation Initiative, a coalition advancing decarbonization solutions for the Midcontinent region’s most important industrial sectors. Jill earned a bachelor of science in biology from the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and a master of science degree in science technology and environmental policy from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Jill’s past experience includes multiple graduate research assistantships concentrating on technology innovation and sustainable megacities along and a previous position as an administrative and outreach coordination intern with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association.