Biden’s New Executive Actions to Spur Clean Energy Growth, EPA’s Green Chemistry Challenge Awards and Winners, Listeners’ Call to Action

by | Jun 13, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

President Biden’s new Executive Actions to spur clean energy growth. The EPA’s Green Chemistry Challenge Awards and announcing winners, plus listeners’ call to action!



Did you know the EPA gives out awards? Well they do. One such award is the Green Chemistry Challenge Award. These awards promote the environmental and economic benefits of developing and using novel green chemistry. These prestigious annual awards recognize chemical technologies that incorporate the principles of green chemistry into chemical design, manufacture, and use.

Since its inception, in 1996, EPA has received over 1,800 green chemistry nominations, and has presented awards to 128 winners in six award categories: greener synthetic pathways; greener reaction conditions; the design of greener chemicals; small business; academic; and specific environmental benefit: Climate Change.

Why does the EPA Green Chemistry Challenge matter to us? According to the EPA, those winning technologies have made billions of pounds of progress, including: 

  • 830 million pounds of hazardous chemicals and solvents eliminated each year—enough to fill almost 3,800 railroad tank cars, or a train nearly 47 miles long.
  • 21 billion gallons of water saved each year—the amount used by 980,000 people annually.
  • 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents released to air eliminated each year—equal to taking 770,000 automobiles off the road.

DEEPER DIVE: Green Chemistry Challenge



As Jeffrey just said, the EPA annually bestows the Green Chemistry Challenge Award. These awards promote the environmental and economic benefits of developing and using novel green chemistry. 

To be eligible for an award, a nominated technology must meet the scope of the Green Chemistry Challenge Program by meeting each of these six criteria:

  1. It must be a green chemistry technology with a significant chemistry component. Specifically, the technology improves upon all chemical products and processes by reducing negative impacts on human health and the environment and it must include all chemical processes

This year, Challenge awards were given out to five people/companies. The companies were Merck, Amgen and Provivi. We’d like to spotlight the work of Cornell’s Professor Song Lin and the team from the University of California Davis.

Professor Lin focused on developing an improved way to perform chemical processes common to the pharmaceutical industry. Many chemicals in use today, particularly pharmaceuticals, are large and complicated molecules. These complicated molecules are often created by joining together parts of smaller molecules through cross-coupling reactions, which create new bonds between carbon or silicon molecules.

Traditionally, cross-coupling reactions require a transition metal-based catalyst, which typically use rare and potentially hazardous metals. Professor Lin’s group has developed a new way to perform these reactions that does not use these metals and also decreases energy use and waste.

Professor Mark Mascal and HIS lab at UC Davis, in partnership with CEO John Bissell and his team at Origin Materials, are being recognized for the development and implementation of a novel technology for the production of chemicals from biomass (such as forestry, agricultural and municipal wastes) that can replace products commonly made from petroleum. Their technology could have positive environmental impacts, particularly in the plastics industry, as the chemicals produced can be used to make materials which are both net zero-carbon and recyclable.

DEEPER DIVE: GCC Winners, UCDavis, Cornell



Just last week, the Biden Administration invoked the Defense Production Act to spur US manufacturing of solar and several other forms of clean energy. In light of rising fossil fuel prices, partially as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the administration asserts lower energy costs, strengthen power grid, and create good-paying jobsvcan be achieved through these executive actions.

The plan is for the Energy Department to utilize the DPA to speed up domestic manufacturing of solar panel components, energy-efficient heat pumps, building insulation, electric transformers needed for the power grid and equipment like electrolyzers and fuel cells. 

According to the White House press release, this action will “Create a 24-month bridge as domestic manufacturing rapidly scales up to ensure the reliable supply of components that U.S. solar deployers need to construct clean energy projects and an electric grid for the 21st century, while reinforcing the integrity of our trade laws and processes.”

Why does President Biden’s executive action matter to us? These actions will spur domestic manufacturing, construction projects, and good-paying jobs – all while cutting energy costs for families, strengthening our grid, and tackling climate change and environmental injustice. If successfully undertaken, this move will help the U.S stay on track to triple domestic solar manufacturing capacity by 2024. 




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Remember, we’re all about sharing stories of people taking positive action to combat climate change. And that’s you listeners. You can hit us up on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter at #wetheclimate or Jeffrey at The Climate dot org or Maude at The Climate dot org, too.