Humanity really started messing with the global climate system during the industrial revolution when we started burning coal to meet rising energy demand from industrial manufacturing. Most industrial energy efficiency programs target large manufacturers, which represent about 10 percent of all manufacturers and account for half of total industrial energy demand. But there still aren’t many programs out there to help small and medium manufacturers save energy through efficiency improvements, even though they constitute 90 percent of the manufacturing sector and account for the other half of industrial energy demand. Together, small, medium and large manufacturers drive about a third of harmful climate-warming emissions today.
Fortunately, members of Congress have introduced a bipartisan, bicameral bill to curb energy demand from small and medium manufacturers. If implemented, the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Act is estimated to save consumers $5 billion in energy costs by 2040 and reduce carbon emissions equal to the pollution coming from 116 million cars in a year.
Introduced last week by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and Tom Reed (R-NY), this bill would require the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop a national smart manufacturing plan and provide grants to small and medium manufacturers.