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America’s 1st ‘green steel’ plant $1B federal investment

PERRY COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) — A new “green steel” plant will soon put Perry County on the map for clean energy manufacturing and create hundreds of new jobs.

The Department of Energy’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations announced the $1 billion investment for two hydrogen-ready iron-making facilities in Perry County, MS, and Middletown, OH. They will be the first plants of their kind in the U.S.

Green hydrogen, made from new, renewable energy resources, can make fossil-free iron in modern direct-reduced iron (DRI) furnaces. Many climate advocates have called for America to adopt this technology due to its purported improvements over traditional iron and steelmaking processes for both community and climate health.

“The first proposed green steel plant in the United States, supported by the Department of Energy, is a crucial step toward revitalizing American manufacturing, fostering healthier communities and creating future-proof jobs,” said Hilary Lewis, the steel director for Industrious Labs. “With this investment, the Biden administration has notched its first win in the global transition to green steel.”

The Ohio plant will replace the coal-based blast furnace at Cleveland-Cliffs Middletown Works in Middletown, Ohio, north of Cincinnati.

These new hydrogen-direct reduced iron plants will retain existing workers and further grow the union workforce. Between the two plants, developers project they will create 7,200 construction jobs and 710 permanent jobs.

“As our recent report shows, investing in fossil-free steelmaking is a boon for job creation and retention, enhancing community health and improving quality of life,” said Joanne Kilgour, the executive director of the Ohio River Valley Institute. “But we’ll only realize the full benefits if these facilities are powered by 100% green hydrogen made with new renewable energy resources.”

Due to its reliance on coal, the global steel industry is responsible for 11 percent of global climate pollution.

Senior Campaign Strategist at Industrious Labs Maricela Gutierrez believes the plants in Mississippi and Ohio are essential to meeting the growing demand for low-emissions steel from industry leaders like Ford and GM.

“In the chicken-and-egg game of supply and demand for sustainable materials, today’s announcements clarified that clean steel is coming,” said Gutierrez. “Now, we need key steel buyers like automakers to help secure these investments by signing advanced purchase agreements.”

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