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Biden Administration Strengthens Buy American Requirements

Stephanie Salmon

In March, the Biden administration issued a final rule aimed at increasing federal government preferences for goods and construction materials that are domestically manufactured and increasing the required domestic content threshold for purchases governed by the Buy American Act (BAA).  

When it takes effect on October 25,  the recently published rule will make the following significant changes to the application of the BAA provisions:

  • Increase the domestic content threshold for non-iron/non-steel products, including nonferrous castings, initially from 55% to 60% in 2022 and 2023, with staged increases to 75% in 2029, in order to qualify as domestic products and receive preferences under the BAA.
  • Create a “Fallback Threshold” (such as the use of the current 55% domestic content threshold) in cases where the purchasing agency finds that no end products or construction materials meet the new higher standard, or where such products would be of unreasonable cost.
  • Provide an enhanced price preference for select critical products in a future rulemaking.
  • Under current law, a two-part test is used to determine whether a manufactured product or construction material qualifies as domestic. First, the end product or construction material must be manufactured in the U.S. Second, a minimum percentage of all component parts (determined by cost) must also be mined, produced, or manufactured in the U.S.

The new rule builds on the administration’s “Made in America” efforts, first announced in a January 2021 executive order and the push to get federal agencies using more domestically produced products and services. AFS submitted comments on the proposed rule released in July.     


DOE Releases Strategy for a Clean Energy Supply Chain and Mentions Importance of Castings 

In response to President Biden’s Executive Order 14017 on America’s Supply Chains, the U.S. Department of Energy has released the first-ever comprehensive strategy to secure the nation’s clean energy supply chain. AFS submitted comments to DOE on the vital role castings play in the U.S. economy and our national security and highlighted a variety of supply chain challenges.  

The DOE report, “America’s Strategy to Secure the Supply Chain for a Robust Clean Energy Transition,” examines strategies and cross-cutting topics to chart a course for revitalizing the U.S. economy and domestic manufacturing by securing the country’s most critical supply chains. The report focuses on seven key areas: (1) increased availability of critical materials; (2) expanded domestic manufacturing capabilities; (3) investment and support for the formation of diverse, reliable, and socially responsible foreign supply chains; (4) increased adoption and deployment of clean energy; (5) improved end of life energy-related waste management; (6) attracting and supporting a skilled workforce for the clean energy transition; and (7) enhanced supply chain knowledge and decision-making. Specifically, the DOE report noted in its recommendations to: “Extend, expand, and revise eligibility for advanced energy manufacturing tax credits (48C) to include castings, as well as equipment manufacturing facilities such as manufacturing equipment/machines key for energy manufacturing, solar polysilicon, wafers, cells, modules, grid components, components for advanced nuclear reactors, and other components. The full report and fact sheets are available at www.energy.gov/policy/securing-americas-clean-energy-supply-chain.    

EPA Awards $17 Million in Rebates to Fund Electric School Buses 

In March, EPA awarded $17 million, with $7 million directed toward school districts in underserved communities to replace old diesel buses with new, zero-emission electric models, and $10 million to assist with 444 school bus replacements across the country. In addition to the $17 million, in the coming weeks EPA plans to announce a new Clean School Bus rebate program under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides $5 billion over five years, to replace existing school buses with cleaner models. A number of foundries are producing bus castings for these electric models. To learn more about the upcoming Clean School Bus Program, please visit www.epa.gov/cleanschoolbus.    

EPA Restores California Waiver on Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reinstated California’s authority to set its own clean car standards, including both its greenhouse gas standards and zero-emissions vehicles sales requirements, after the state’s authority was revoked by the Trump administration. The standards, which have been adopted by 16 other states, as well as Washington, D.C., have been more stringent than federal standards and are expected to continue to push the market toward electric vehicles. However, California will need a new waiver from EPA in the coming years to regulate post-2025 vehicles. 

Also in March, the EPA proposed strengthening emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles and engines starting in 2027, a step in the Biden administration’s efforts to combat climate change, which could impact foundries that produce castings for the heavy-duty truck sector.