Steel’s Largely Silent on Trump's Paris Pullout

Written by Sandy Williams

President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement was met mostly with silence from the steel industry. Cliffs Natural Resource CEO Lourenco Goncalves was among the few to publicly voice his support for abandoning the environmental agreement signed by 194 other nations.
“Cliffs applauds President Trump for his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. The Paris climate accord is a bad deal for America in its current form. We must understand that staying in the accord is not equivalent to protecting the environment. As a nation, we could no longer accept the restrictions imposed on the United States while other countries are allowed to continue to pollute the world.”

Goncalves has been outspoken in the past about the use of sinter iron ore by foreign steel producers and its damage to the environment. He has noted that the Paris accord did not do enough to reduce polluting practices by China’s steel industry.
“The American iron and steel industry is the most environmentally compliant among the major industrial nations,” he added. “We exclusively use iron ore pellets in our blast furnaces, while China relies on highly polluting sinter feed iron ore fines from Australia and Brazil to overproduce steel, flood the steel markets and weaken the U.S. steel industry. We believe that being pro-environment, pro-industry and pro-business are not contradictory goals.”
The United Steelworkers International, on the other hand, called the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris agreement “an inexcusable blow to the U.S. economy.”
“This announcement is a threat to innovative, green jobs in the United States,” said USW International President Leo Gerard. “Americans do not have to choose between good jobs and a clean environment. The USW has long believed that America can have both. Most American industries already meet the requirements of previous international climate agreements.”
He added, “The Administration made this choice despite the overwhelming evidence of the impacts of climate change and the near universal support for the agreement by labor, environmental and business leaders. President Trump should immediately reverse his decision to protect the planet and jobs for workers in the United States.”
No statements were issued by the American Iron and Steel Institute or the American Institute for International Steel.  An ArcelorMittal USA spokesperson provided Steel Market Update the following comment:
“The Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord has no impact on the EPA’s environmental regulations and therefore does not impact ArcelorMittal USA’s operations. The company’s existing environmental compliance protocols remain in full force along with our commitment to pursuing best practices that will improve the sustainability of both our processes and products.
“The North American steel industry was proactively pursuing strategies to improve energy efficiency and minimize its environmental footprint prior to the Paris Accord. These efforts have resulted in a 32 percent reduction in energy intensity and a 37 percent reduction in greenhouse gas intensity since 1990.
“In the last three years alone, ArcelorMittal USA has reduced our energy intensity by 4 percent. Our CO2 emissions remain lower than the global industry average of 1.9 tons of CO2 per ton of steel produced. We expect to further reduce CO2 emissions in the coming years through the implementation of innovative technologies and best practices.”
A search of U.S. steel mills and other steel association websites failed to find any other official statements. Nucor and U.S. Steel told Steel Market Update they have no comment. 

Latest in Economy