Steel Industry Comments on How Steel will Fare Under Trump Administration

Written by Sandy Williams

There has been a great deal of discussion on how the Trump administration will affect manufacturing and the steel industry in the coming months. Steel Market Update asked AISI and domestic steel mills what regulations they would like to see repealed under the new administration and what kind of environment for steel and manufacturing they are expecting for the next four years.

The American Iron and Steel Institute made the following comments on trade, environmental and worker issues.

“The incoming Administration has shown a clear commitment on issues of concern to the men and women of the North American steel industry. The president elect has made clear that he intends to focus on the need to strengthen trade enforcement against dumping and subsidies, fix our crumbling roads and bridges, champion tax reform that preserves American investment, and ensure environmental regulations do not impact industrial competitiveness.

“With regard to the latter, we would also urge that environmental regulations be based on transparent and common-sense decision-making, sound science and data, and technological feasibility. As such, we would advocate a withdrawal of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) and the GHG New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for the power sector. We have challenged these regulations in court, and believe that they significantly burden steel plants and other energy intensive facilities. The CPP would result in a shift to higher cost electricity, and the GHG NSPS standard would place additional hurdles in an already difficult financial environment for building new power plants.

“We also have concerns about the EPA’s ‘Waters of the US’ regulation, which delineates federal jurisdiction over the waters (ponds, streams, creeks, etc.) regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA). We believe this rule significantly expands EPA’s authority with reference to how the CWA has historically been implemented, and deviates from the direction given in recent Supreme Court opinions. It is currently in the courts, and is not yet being implemented. We would urge that the rule be remanded back to the EPA.

“While we work with our customers on steel solutions to meet vehicle regulations, we look forward to supporting their advocacy efforts on the GHG Light Duty Vehicle rule. This rule places GHG tailpipe limits on light duty vehicles for model years 2012-2025. We support the auto industry’s goal of seeing reasonable reductions in the stringency of the rule for 2022-25 model year cars.

“Some additional regulations we would like to see revised include:

  • In fall of 2015, EPA finalized a revised Ozone NAAQS which established stringent nationwide standards for major stationary sources of ground level ozone. Once implemented, this rule would impose heavy costs on a wide array of industrial sources. 
  • Reviewing and revising the OSHA rule that mandates employers make public all data and incident details available, which negatively impacts employer incentive programs designed to improve safety performance at company operations.

“Given the uncertainty surrounding the details of any new administration’s economic policy proposals, and the fact that many of them require Congressional or other administrative approval, it is premature to assess specific impacts on future steel industry business conditions. Nonetheless, a number of themes raised by the Trump campaign – such as adoption of aggressive pro-growth economic policies, relief from the kinds of regulatory burdens described above, enhanced investment in infrastructure, and increased domestic energy production – offer the potential to be substantial positives for the industry.

“With the steel import crisis ongoing and global steelmaking overcapacity growing, the President-elect’s consistent focus on fair trade holds great promise as well.”

Nucor told SMU the company was pleased to see both presidential candidates focus on trade and manufacturing issues during the campaign.

Said Nucor in a statement to SMU, “We support efforts to strongly enforce our trade laws under the rules-based trading system. We are also encouraged by the interest the new Administration and Congress have in making a significant investment in our nation’s infrastructure. We look forward to working with our leaders in Washington on policy issues that will strengthen the manufacturing sector.”

ArcelorMittal and US Steel referred us to their original statements made following the election results.

US Steel: “Throughout this election cycle, U. S. Steel has worked with candidates on both sides of the aisle to stress the importance of fair trade laws and priority policy issues. We look forward to working with President-elect Donald Trump, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and newly elected officials at all levels of federal, state and local government to ensure a level playing field for the steel industry.”

ArcelorMIttal: “Throughout his campaign, President-elect Trump expressed his support for the domestic steel industry and American manufacturing, outlining important policies on infrastructure spending and trade. ArcelorMittal supports this agenda and looks forward to working with the new administration on comprehensive solutions to revitalize manufacturing in the U.S. and further protect the industry from unfair trade practices.”

The United Steelworkers referred Steel Market Update to a recent letter from USW International President Leo Gerard to President-Elect Trump. In the letter the union offered its congratulations while reminding Mr. Trump of his promises to the steel industry and manufacturing:

“During this campaign you spoke out vigorously for the need to bring jobs back home, to invest in domestic manufacturing, take a hard line with our trading partners and to reform our nation’s failed trade policies,” wrote Gerard. “We share those goals. Indeed, for decades – during Republican and Democratic Administrations – we have been unflinching in our advocacy for policies to promote and support domestic manufacturing and the interests of average working people.”

Added Gerard, “Many of our nation’s policies need dramatic reform. There are tremendous opportunities to revitalize the domestic manufacturing sector that include overhauling the failed trade policies that have devastated industry and workers, and repairing and upgrading our nation’s critical infrastructure systems.

“There are policies and approaches where we have disagreed. That’s what campaigns are for, and it is what makes our democracy so cherished. But, the voters have spoken, and we must unite to achieve our shared goals, while also staying true to our basic ideals. We are prepared to work with you and your Administration. And, as I am sure you know we will disagree where we must, but for the good of our people, it is time to put politics aside and tackle the work at hand. Like you, our union and our members believe in the greatness of America.”

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