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Association to Congress: Aluminum Makes American Infrastructure

Recycling, Electric Grid Modernization and Other Priorities Essential to 21st Century Infrastructure Investment

In a letter to Congress as well as a newly released policy framework, the Aluminum Association laid out top industry priorities for new U.S. infrastructure investment. Aluminum is a cornerstone material in American manufacturing, supporting aerospace, transportation, construction, electrical transmission and many other markets. The metal is one of only eight mineral commodities designated by the U.S. Geological Survey as critical to the U.S. economy and has been recognized by the Departments of Commerce and Defense as “vital” to national security.
The U.S. aluminum industry supports nearly 660,000 total jobs (166,000 direct) and nearly $172 billion in total economic output ($70 billion direct). Aluminum is a key element of any comprehensive strategy to enhance the nation’s infrastructure while conserving energy, improving environmental quality and mitigating climate change. Aluminum is a key component in making vehicles more efficient, buildings greener and packaging more recyclable
“Aluminum manufactured, recycled and processed right here in the United States, will play an enormous role in any potential new infrastructure investment program,” said Tom Dobbins, president & CEO of the Aluminum Association. “Congress should consider ways to prioritize the use of durable and sustainable materials like aluminum while also shoring up supply chains through improved metal recycling. Overseas competitors are not waiting for us to make these overdue investments. The time to act is now.”
The association outlined several specific proposals in a letter to the leaders of the House committees on Transportation & Infrastructure and Energy & Commerce:
  1. Fund and support recycling: The association recommends that Congress establish and fund a recycling infrastructure program like models established in the RECOVER Act as part of a broader infrastructure package. While the U.S. aluminum industry recovers and recycles more metal today than ever before, each year hundreds of millions of dollars worth of aluminum still ends up in landfills.
  2. Modernize the electric grid and electric vehicle infrastructure: Aluminum is the most widely used material in the electric transmission grid today. The nation’s aging patchwork system of power generating plants, transmission and distribution lines and substations will need extensive upgrades to meet the growing demands for sustainably produced electricity. The association also supports programs to boost electric vehicle charging stations nationwide. 
  3. Invest in public transportation building construction: Aluminum’s durability, corrosion resistance and high strength-to-weight ratio make it an extremely attractive material for public building projects. Congress should create a new Airport and Airway Investment Program focused on modernization projects that enhance airport and airspace capacity while also investing in public transit facilities.
  4. Ensure that new bridges are built to last: New developments in aluminum alloys allow for reduced maintenance and a greater service lifespan for a lower cost over the entire life cycle of a bridge. We urge Congress to encourage states to consider a bridge’s full life cycle cost in their procurement processes to ensure that new bridge projects are designed for a modern transportation system.
  5. Increase maximum truck weight limits: Manufacturers can better contribute to the economy when goods and services flow efficiently through the nation’s transportation network, easing congestion while maintaining high safety standards. We urge Congress to allow states to increase truck weight limits on Interstate System highways within their borders to 91,000 pounds as long as those trucks are equipped with an additional sixth axle. 
  6. Promote a resilient domestic supply chain of aluminum: The U.S. government recognizes aluminum among a handful of materials critical to U.S. economic and national security. To that end, Congress and the administration should adopt a coordinated federal strategy that would support innovation and invest in the long-term stability of primary aluminum production, fund the deployment of technology to increase U.S. production of high purity aluminum and facilitate crucial supply chain partnerships. This might include grants or forgivable loans for capital investment in next generation, low carbon aluminum production.    
The Aluminum Association is committed to working with the administration and Congress on programs, policy changes and smart investments to grow aluminum as an essential element of American manufacturing. As demand for aluminum is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, the U.S. should work to ensure that more of this material – both primary and recycled metal – is made domestically to enhance national resiliency, self-sufficiency and a more circular economy. Policies that recognize the benefits of aluminum as lightweight, durable, corrosion resistant and infinitely recyclable will help to advance the nation’s infrastructure agenda.
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Matt Meenan

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About The Aluminum Association
The Aluminum Association represents aluminum production and jobs in the United States, ranging from primary production to value added products to recycling, as well as suppliers to the industry. The association is the industry’s leading voice, representing companies that make 70% of the aluminum and aluminum products shipped in North America. The association develops global standards, business intelligence, sustainability research and industry expertise for member companies, policymakers and the general public. The aluminum industry helps manufacturers produce sustainable and innovative products, including more fuel-efficient vehicles, recyclable packaging, greener buildings and modern electronics.  In the U.S., the aluminum industry supports $176 billion in economic activity and more than 634,000 jobs. For more information visit or find us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram. 

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