April 2, 2014
Mill Execs Plead Steel's Case to Congress
Speaking before the Congressional Steel Caucus in late March, chief executives from leading U.S. steel companies asserted that many government policies on trade, energy, infrastructure and the environment need to be reformed to ensure America’s industrial competitiveness and preserve jobs. Testifying were Mario Longhi, president and CEO of United States Steel Corp.; John Ferriola, chairman, president and CEO of Nucor Corp.; Mike Rehwinkel, executive chairman of EVRAZ North America; Mike Rippey, president and CEO of ArcelorMittal USA; and Charles Schmitt, president of SSAB Americas.
High levels of unfairly traded imports continue to challenge the domestic steel industry, the executives noted. In the first two months of this year, finished steel imports increased by 15 percent, capturing 25 percent of the market.
"We were disappointed that the Department of Commerce issued preliminary findings that failed to recognize and punish illegal South Korean dumping made possible through interwoven networks of related companies, all created to evade our laws and conceal the true cost of producing and importing oil country tubular goods," Longhi said.
"We are doing our part to grow the economy by investing in the U.S. and creating jobs. We need our government to do its part, too, by backing up U.S. industry with strong trade enforcement. U.S. steel producers are among the lowest cost producers in the world. We enjoy clear advantages in practically every aspect of steelmaking, but the disregard many of our competitors have for the global rules of free trade wipes these advantages out," Ferriola added.
Rippey discussed the state of the steel industry and pressed for enhanced infrastructure investment. "Our economic competitors around the world are on a crash course of investing in infrastructure. What these countries understand is that infrastructure investment means jobs. Today's infrastructure crisis is a product of decades. It won't be totally fixed by one bill, or in a short time. But we must reverse the decline and stabilize the systems," he said.
Rehwinkel, also chairman of the American Iron and Steel Institute, urged passage of the long-awaited Keystone XL permit application. "If the United States is serious about creating jobs, moving our economy forward and controlling our own energy future, that kind of delay is unacceptable. The economic benefits of the Keystone project go well beyond the pipeline itself. Hundreds of miles of additional pipe for feeder lines and substantial amounts of additional processing equipment will be needed. This will create significant demand for steel pipe, tube and other products essential for our nation's energy infrastructure."
Schmitt commented on the steel industry's reductions in energy usage and cautioned Congress against passing further environmental restrictions without more information. "We need to ensure that the next steps we take in this transition are not speculative but are well understood and don’t risk destroying domestic manufacturing. Congress should consider a delay in additional EPA rules on greenhouse gas emissions for existing power plants and manufacturing until we are able to assess the impact of the rules already in the implementation stage."