On Earth Day, we look at how the war in Ukraine gives the United States a new chance to break free of emissions-heavy steel production. Russia and Ukraine supplied over 60% of the pig iron the U.S. imported last year to make steel; some were produced at the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works plant in Mariupol, where thousands of civilians and soldiers are now blockaded. We speak to Justin Mikulka and Zack Exley with New Consensus, a think tank working on detailed plans, such as the Green New Deal, for governments to transition to clean energy to address the climate crisis and renew their economy. In a new report for The Intercept, they argue that the U.S. must transition to using green hydrogen to produce sponge iron to replace dirty pig iron. As corporate profits have gone up, “there isn’t any real incentive for the U.S. steel industry to change their business model, and that’s why we argue that we need government policies,” says Mikulka. “We’ve got a real opportunity here to start building clean industries that can make the stuff that we need without changing the atmosphere's composition,” says Exley, one of the leaders of the 2016 Bernie Sanders presidential campaign and co-founder of Justice Democrats.
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