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Associations representing the steel and aluminum industries in America have endorsed the American Jobs Plan proposed by the Biden administration.

Biden infrastructure plan could be metals intensive

President’s transportation, communications and power grid investment plan welcomed by metals industry associations.

April 1, 2021

The American Jobs Plan proposed by the administration of President Joe Biden involves funding road and rail transportation, power grid and telecommunications projects that would likely require hundreds of thousands of tons of steel, copper, aluminum and other basic materials.

As described in a fact sheet posted by the Biden administration in late March, the plan aims to “modernize 20,000 miles of highways, roads and main streets [and] fix the 10 most economically significant bridges in the country in need of reconstruction [and] will repair the worst 10,000 smaller bridges.”

Elsewhere in the document, a reference is made to “eliminat[ing] all lead pipes and service lines in our drinking water systems” and presumably replacing them with pipes made of other materials.

The fact sheet also says the plan “will put hundreds of thousands of people to work laying thousands of miles of [electrical] transmission lines and capping hundreds of thousands of orphan oil and gas wells and abandoned mines. And, it will bring affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband to every American, including the more than 35 percent of rural Americans who lack access to broadband at minimally acceptable speeds.”

The document puts a $621 billion price tag on the portions of the plan described as involving “transportation infrastructure and resilience.” In addition to highway and bridge projects, $80 billion of that amount is allocated to rail spending, including funding to “address Amtrak’s repair backlog; modernize the high traffic Northeast Corridor; improve existing corridors and connect new city pairs; and enhance grant and loan programs that support passenger and freight rail safety, efficiency, and electrification.”

For copper producers, the $174 billion portion assigned to electric vehicle (EV) industry support includes funding to “establish grant and incentive programs for state and local governments and the private sector to build a national network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030.”

The Washington-based American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) quickly expressed support for the plan, with Kevin Dempsey, its president and CEO, stating, “AISI greatly appreciates President Biden’s commitment to building back better America’s roads, bridges, waterways, rail, electrical grid and other critical infrastructure – and doing it with American made steel.”

Adds Dempsey, “Each $1 billion in infrastructure spending requires about 50,000 net tons of steel, and each $1 trillion invested in infrastructure has the potential to create 11 million jobs in our economy over the next decade.”

The Washington-based Aluminum Association also endorsed the plan. Its president and CEO Tom Dobbins comments, “We are pleased to see the Biden administration and the Congress focusing on infrastructure investment as the national priority that it is. Aluminum is an essential element to America’s infrastructure future – used widely in the electric grid, solar panels, EV charging stations and buildings of all kinds.”

Dobbins also refers to recycling specifically, saying, “Major investment will also provide a once-in-a-generation opportunity to modernize the nation’s recycling infrastructure, vital to shoring up domestic aluminum supply chains and increasing manufacturing self-sufficiency.”

The full American Jobs Plan fact sheet can be found on this web page.