The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion In trying to go green, the U.S. sometimes can’t get out of its own way

The Alcoa Intalco Works aluminum smelter in Ferndale, Wash. (Google Maps)
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The Post’s June 8 front-page article “For ‘green’ aluminum, they need clean energy,” about the difficulties of restarting the Alcoa Intalco Works aluminum smelter in Washington state, was an unfortunate example of how the United States simply cannot get out of its own way when it comes to revitalizing domestic manufacturing.

Restarting Intalco mirrors the Biden administration’s stated goal of increasing domestic green manufacturing, decreasing dependence on Russia for crucial materials and creating middle-class union jobs. Aluminum is a critical material for economic and national security. It is used in defense, aerospace and infrastructure — and is crucial to the transition to electric vehicles. But this project might not happen for lack of an electricity contract.

This is going to be a recurring story. It will take clean, abundant, low-cost energy to reindustrialize America, from mineral processing to other strategic materials. We built many of these facilities during World War II as part of the Arsenal of Democracy to beat the Germans, and we will need them again to compete with the Russians and Chinese.

Joe Quinn, Washington

The writer is director of the Center for Strategic Industrial Materials at SAFE Commanding Heights.