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Biden's order seeks to promote US clean energy, electric vehicle manufacturing

U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order Jan. 25 aimed at promoting U.S. manufacturing, including the domestic development of clean energy technology.

"We need to make our own protective equipment, essential products and supplies," Biden said during a Jan. 25 press conference. "We'll also make historic investments in research and development, hundreds of billions of dollars, to sharpen America's innovative edge in markets where global leadership is up for grabs, markets like battery technology, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, clean energy."

The president also noted that the federal government owns an "enormous fleet of vehicles, which we're going to replace with clean electric vehicles made right here in America by American workers, creating a million autoworker jobs in clean energy, in vehicles that are net-zero emissions."

His Jan. 25 executive order does not mention energy or electric vehicles directly but calls on the federal government to "whenever possible, procure goods, products, materials, and services from sources that will help American businesses compete in strategic industries and help America's workers thrive." The order also seeks to "promote an accountable and transparent procurement policy."

Biden's order directs the Office of Management and Budget to create a Made in America Office. That office would evaluate proposed waivers justifying the use of products and materials produced or sourced outside the U.S. Among other things, the directive kicks off a process to "increase the numerical threshold for domestic content requirements for end products and construction materials" as well.

Biden may face an uphill battle to support domestic renewable energy manufacturing. Earlier this month, SunPower Corp. announced it would close its only U.S.-based solar manufacturing plant, and many China-based solar panel manufacturers sought to drive their smaller competitors out of the market in 2020.

Biden supports the Jones Act — a law that prevents foreign ships from moving goods between U.S. ports — which "supports American production and America's workers," according to a Jan. 25 White House release.

The order focuses on building and strengthening clean energy supply chains while promoting union jobs and racial equity, according to the release.

"The federal government should buy from suppliers that are growing the sectors of the future and treating their workers with dignity and respect," according to the release. "The president remains committed to working with partners and allies to modernize international trade rules — including those related to government procurement — to make sure all countries can use their taxpayer dollars to spur investment in their own countries."