Aluminum—the second most used metal in the world— is a fundamental material for our economy, forming the backbone of everything from bridges to smart phones to soda cans. Aluminum also is an integral ingredient for achieving our climate, jobs, and national security goals. As a primary component of solar panels, power lines, electric vehicles, and other clean technologies, aluminum is a building block of our clean energy solutions. As we take on climate change, we need to produce more aluminum to build a clean economy.
In the early 1990s, 23 aluminum smelters in the United States provided a stable supply of aluminum and good jobs. After decades of decline, today there are only five U.S. smelters in operation. As a result, tens of thousands of aluminum workers have lost their jobs. Many displaced aluminum workers have had to settle for lower-paying jobs, while their communities have had to grapple with the economic fallout of shuttered smelters.
The decline of U.S. aluminum manufacturing not only eliminated good jobs, but also increased climate pollution, as the world’s aluminum started to come from countries with lower environmental and labor standards and higher emissions. As companies shut down their U.S. aluminum smelters, smelters in China and India opened to take their place. Due to outsourcing, today about two-thirds of the world’s aluminum is made in countries with more polluting processes than in the United States.
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