I am often asked why the Biden administration would have some of its federal agencies issue rules promoting manufacturing in America while another proposes new regulations that hurt manufacturing in America. They are, of course, typically referring to the EPA or Labor Department. According to the most recent federal regulatory agenda, the EPA listed 148 rulemaking actions it intends to take in the coming year. Then there is the Department of Energy, which, on some issues, you can think of as the good cop to EPA’s bad cop. 

The Energy Department is at the forefront of the Biden administration’s industrial decarbonization efforts to incentivize businesses to adopt new technologies and strategies. On June 15, 2023, the U.S. Department of Energy announced $135 million to fund 40 projects led by 36 different universities, national laboratories and companies in 21 states with a goal of reducing carbon pollution from the industrial sector. Projects range from the development of an industrial hydrogen-fired steel reheating furnace to an advanced, modular, high-temperature heat-pump system for industrial applications to decarbonize process heat. Separately, on June 7, the Energy Department announced up to $80 million in grants for small- and medium-sized manufacturing firms to help them improve energy efficiency to lower costs and reduce industrial emissions. 

In this narrow space, the difference in approach between the EPA and Energy Department is quite significant. This is why I am not surprised when people ask me: How can the government say it wants to grow industry but then put out policies to slow that growth? My only response is, welcome to Washington, D.C., where the government can take money out of your left pocket while putting some in your right pocket.