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Imminent’ US vehicle credit guidance to be modeled on CHIPS rules – experts

Long-awaited guidance from the US Treasury Department that could prevent automakers from buying materials from China will likely resemble regulations aimed at protecting the US semiconductor industry, industry experts told S&P Global Commodity Insights.

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An EV slowdown? Battery makers are cool with that.

ENERGYWIRE | The news that big auto companies like General Motors and Ford Motor are slowing their electric vehicle rollouts has one group a bit relieved: battery-makers.

This nascent U.S. industry has received $58 billion of investment in the year since the Inflation Reduction Act became law, according to Jay Turner, a professor at Wellesley College in Massachusetts who maintains an EV-investment database. That’s far more than any other part of the EV ecosystem. People in the industry say they could use a break from this red-hot streak to catch their breath.

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OP-ED: Buy America – Striking the Right Balance

Policy with bipartisan support is hard to find these days. Luckily, one of them involves the laudable effort to have more U.S.-made products used in federally funded contracts, such as public works and infrastructure projects. For these efforts to thrive and achieve a balanced Buy America policy, the government must reduce bureaucratic complexity, ensure greater transparency and tackle other problems that impede achieving the goals of domestic preference policies. Striking the right balance for Buy America requires a careful consideration of various factors such as economic benefits, job creation, exemptions and waivers and international trade obligations.

Domestic preference laws date back to 1933, though there were earlier laws at the state and local levels that encouraged domestic sourcing. Congress and President Herbert Hoover enacted the Buy American Act during the depths of the Great Depression as part of the National Industrial Recovery Act, creating a preference for U.S.-made products in its procurement of goods and services. Over time, subsequent laws expanded this effort.

In 1978, the Buy American Act was included as part of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act, which extended domestic-preference rules to federally financed transportation projects, such as airports, highways and public transit systems. Today, the Build America, Buy America Act, enacted as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, requires all federal agencies to ensure no federal financial assistance for “infrastructure” projects be provided “unless all of the iron, steel, manufactured products and construction materials used in the project are produced in the United States.”

These laws became more urgent—but also more complicated—as they were applied to new initiatives. These include President Joe Biden’s 2021 Executive Order on “Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers” and the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes the Clean Vehicle Credit (an electric vehicle tax incentive under IRS section 30D with battery sourcing requirements).

Each statute is unique and enacted with different requirements and policy goals in mind. The overarching goal, however, is the same: To boost domestic manufacturing and supply chains while increasing U.S. jobs and promoting economic development nationwide. But how does this happen effectively and efficiently?

The Build America, Buy America Act applies “Buy America” to all federally funded infrastructure and public works projects. Though simple in purpose, its requirements can vary depending on the program or project involved. This makes it harder for contractors to navigate the various rules and regulations, which, of course, are meant to minimize waste and misuse.

The Office of Management and Budget—and specifically its Made in America Office – has made progress in implementing President Biden’s January 2021 Executive Order and requirements under the Build America, Buy America Act and has been a strong tip of the spear on domestic preference policy efforts. A remaining core challenge involves agencies determining how to apply domestic-preference guidance to their infrastructure programs and processes.

Critics of Buy America policy argue it increases costs and reduces efficiency. However, these concerns can be addressed by ensuring the policy is implemented in a way that balances the economic benefits with the costs. For example, exemptions and waivers can be provided for goods and materials when strict adherence to the laws is not in the public interest, when the needed materials are not sufficiently available in the U.S. and when using U.S.-made materials would increase a project’s overall cost by more than 25 percent. Timely approval of these requests can help prevent project delays while ensuring the overall objectives of the law are still being met.

These aren’t easy matters. A phased transition, which includes a steady increase in domestic sourcing percentage thresholds to manage supply chains and materials acquisition, is critical to ensuring the viability of any domestic-preference policy.

Additionally, many industries have complex supply chains involving multiple tiers of suppliers and subcontractors. One of the main challenges here is ensuring all required materials and components are made in the U.S. This can be difficult, as many products are made with parts or materials sourced overseas, and it can be challenging to trace the origin of every component in a complex supply chain.

The government should reduce the administrative burden for Buy America compliance to help businesses—especially small- and medium-sized enterprises—compete for contracts without inordinate red tape. Inconsistent implementation of Buy America policies causes undue problems for manufacturers and project sponsors. They become unable to conduct long-term capital project planning, provide investors with peace of mind and predict how the government will treat project bids.

One of the most effective ways to reduce the administrative burden for Buy America compliance is to simplify the requirements. This can include providing clear definitions that apply across the federal government, reducing the number of required certifications and curtailing the amount of paperwork and other administrative tasks.

Greater transparency around the compliance process can also help reduce administrative burdens by enabling businesses to better understand the compliance requirements. Measures could include providing training materials and compliance best practices and ensuring compliance processes are clearly defined and communicated. Technical assistance, such as workshops, webinars or roundtable discussions, would also help.

Most Americans across the political spectrum support Buy America policies and rightly so. The policies support domestic production, enhance national security, certify quality and safety standards and support environmental interests. They promote fair competition by preventing the improper undercutting of domestic prices or distorting market competition.

Inconsistent implementation of Buy America policies, excessive administrative requirements and delays in approving appropriate waivers can hamper the program’s worthy goals. By continuing to address these challenges, the government can responsibly boost U.S. production and jobs.


Bennett E. Resnik is a senior vice president in the Critical Infrastructure Practice at Venn Strategies. The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Venn Strategies or its clients.

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Biden’s EV push sparks lobbying surge

GREENWIRE | The Biden administration’s climate change agenda has spurred an unprecedented lobbying boom driven by mineral and battery companies in search of incentives for expanding North American operations.

More than 30 of those companies retained lobbying firms for the first time since President Joe Biden took office in 2021, an E&E News analysis of disclosure records found, while many others boosted their lobbying might or greatly increased spending.

The National Mining Association, which had reduced its spending amid the coal downturn, more than doubled its federal lobbying expenditures from 2020 to 2022, when it reached $2.2 million.

The rush to influence lawmakers and agencies is evidence of the challenges and opportunities related to meeting the president’s goal of seeing half of all new cars sold be zero-emission vehicles by 2030. That push requires a mineral and battery production capacity that largely resides abroad — something policymakers are scrambling to change.

“There’s a real frenzy of activity and a genuine excitement in the manufacturing spaces that were very precarious investments a short time ago, said Mike Carr, a former Hill aide and Obama administration official who is now partner at the bipartisan lobby firm Boundary Stone Partners. “So everybody’s scrambling to ensure that their voices are heard.”

Boundary Stone has signed clients including solar cell maker Hanwha Q Cells, battery storage company Antora Energy Inc. and battery maker Form Energy. The firm last year launched the Coalition for American Battery Independence to push for U.S. battery incentives.

Critical minerals, battery and other clean-tech companies have already scored major policy wins during the Biden administration and are now working to secure their vision of how the infrastructure law, the Inflation Reduction Act and other initiatives are implemented.

The Inflation Reduction Act, passed by Democrats under budget reconciliation, includes tax incentives for electric vehicles, but with certain sourcing mandates championed by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to increase domestic production of minerals and other components.

The Treasury Department last month released long-awaited guidance on how to implement those requirements. It’s a document lawmakers, automakers and miners have been eager to shape.

Biden has also invoked a Cold War-era law to boost critical minerals. The Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA, appropriates up to $500 million under the Defense Production Act to help U.S. and Canadian companies strengthen mineral supply chains.

Other wins: The Department of Energy got $55 billion from IRA for loans to support and scale up EVs and battery components, and the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law included $7 billion to boost domestic battery supply chains.

LG Chem Ltd., Syrah Resources Ltd. and Ioneer Ltd. have all been offered loans or loan guarantees from DOE for various projects. Since 2021, LG Chem has spent $1.2 million in lobbying and Ioneer has spent $250,000.

Many companies are also pushing Biden and Congress to accelerate the permitting process for infrastructure projects, including transmission lines to help meet the administration’s green goals. It’s currently the most prominent energy and environment legislative fight.

And then this week, EPA announced draft car tailpipe emissions rules that could lead to electrification of 67 percent of new sedans, crossovers, SUVs and light trucks.

Ben Steinberg, executive vice president and co-chair of Venn Strategies’ critical infrastructure group, said the focus on mining and EV battery supply chains is part of across-the-board growth in clean energy manufacturing. Steinberg currently leads the Battery Materials and Technology Coalition.

“The mining sector is now part of that story for the first time in the country,” said Steinberg. “It is an exceptional time across many different sectors right now.”

A national priority

Critical mineral and battery companies have long been lobbying the federal government and were keen on former President Donald Trump’s support for mining.

But the advocacy accelerated with Biden setting climate and manufacturing goals, and has continued as the president’s agenda materializes, said Joe Britton, principal of Pioneer Public Affairs.

“Biden put a clear focus on where he wants to see manufacturing growth, and the emission reduction potential that’s inherent in battery utilization is enormous,” said Britton, former chief of staff to Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), who has made electrification a priority.

Political prioritization is important, he said.

“Some of these big multinational corporations can build anywhere in the world, and it’s really important for them to hear that this is a priority for the federal government,” said Britton.

“It matters to these companies in a big way when they’re deciding where to build billion-dollar facilities,” he said. “Knowing that there’s durable political support for this manufacturing and job growth really matters.”

Pioneer’s lobbying clients include the Solar Energy Industries Association and the Zero Emissions Transportation Association, or ZETA.

Among the companies that have retained lobbyists since 2021 are Piedmont Lithium Inc., which is hoping to mine lithium in North Carolina. It retained Venn Strategies in 2021 to lobby on matters surrounding mining, processing and manufacturing of lithium, and has paid $360,000.

“Venn Strategies has been very helpful as we develop our projects, given their strategic importance in boosting the domestic production of critical battery materials, and as we move through the grant selection and loan application processes with the U.S. Department of Energy,” said Malissa Gordon, Piedmont’s vice president of government relations.

“Building a robust EV supply chain is a key initiative for the U.S., so there is a lot of opportunity to engage with D.C. stakeholders as the U.S. builds its policies,” she said.

Lobbying muscle

ElementUS Minerals retained the firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck last year and has paid it $80,000. The company plans to extract and recycle minerals like rare earths, iron and titanium.

Graphite One, a Vancouver, Canada-based company exploring a graphite mining and processing site in Alaska, retained Capitol Hill Consulting Group’s Kristina Wilcox, a former Capitol Hill aide, in 2021 and has paid the firm $210,000.

US Strategic Metals, formerly Missouri Cobalt, hired Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld last year, and former Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas) is part of the team representing the company. US Strategic Metals has paid the firm $120,000.

The lobbying effort is reaching beyond the United States, to include controversial efforts to mine the ocean floor for mineral-rich nodules. Vancouver-based Metals Co., which is hoping to secure permission to mine a swath of the Pacific Ocean seabed, hired Bracewell LLP.

Scott Segal, a partner at Bracewell, said there’s no question that the critical mineral supply chains are turnkey for the clean energy transition and EV battery production will stall without the necessary minerals.

Environmentalists, who oppose deep-sea mining, have expressed alarm with the rush to mine for clean tech and have called for new rules to protect the environment, secure community consent and make sure taxpayers get their due. But the prospects of mining reform in Congress are dim, with Republicans controlling the House and many Democrats on board with more domestic production.

“The challenge for batteries isn’t just one of scale, but one of time,” said Segal. “That’s put the focus on deep-sea mining. That’s why there’s so much interest in it.”

Companies are also keen on the administration’s implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act’s advanced manufacturing tax credit for clean energy and a bonus to the wind and solar credits for equipment that has a certain level of domestic content.

“Manufacturers are sitting there waiting to make multimillion-dollar bets if it comes out the way that they’re looking for,” said Boundary Stone Partners’ Carr.

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Lobbying World

Public affairs and government relations firm Venn Strategies named Elise Tollefson and Kevin Dowling vice presidents. They were previously legislative directors for House Republicans — Tollefson for Rep. Tom Reed (N.Y.) and Dowling for Rep. Lee Zeldin (N.Y.).

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Uncertain times could bring new lobbying strategies

Workarounds include deeper outreach to think tanks, academia and other institutions.

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Rubber & Plastics News: Polyurethanes Industry to Keep Close Eye on Midterm Elections

The U.S. House of Representatives is likely to see some changes in midterm elections this fall, which could have repercussions for the polyurethanes industry, said Stephanie Silverman, CEO of Venn Strategies L.L.C.

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Washington Examiner: Oil industry stands up against Trump’s tariffs

Energy groups are pressing the Trump administration to weigh the economic harm of imposing tariffs on Chinese goods, while groups focused on transportation say China’s aggressive trade tactics must be a top concern.

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THE HILL: Lobbying World

The public affairs and lobbying firm Venn Strategies added three to its team: Tyler Roberts, a former adviser to Sen.

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