Executives take steel industry jobs focus to Capitol Hill

March 26, 2014

Chief executives from a number of steel companies in the U.S. told members of the Congressional Steel Caucus on March 25 that many government policies on trade, energy, environment, and infrastructure need to be reformed to ensure U.S. industrial competitiveness and preserve American jobs in steel and other manufacturing sectors.

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, testified before more than a dozen congressmen, most from steel-producing states.

The CEOs noted that the industry has continued to face the challenge of high levels of unfairly traded imports in recent years. In the first two months of 2014, finished steel imports increased by 15 percent, capturing an unacceptably high 25 percent of the market.

Longhi said, "Earlier this year, 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. The United States was founded on principles of justice, equality, and fairness, and it is sustained by a transparent rules-based system of law. All we ask for is a level playing field - - the one our trade laws promised we would have."

Ferriola 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. We need the government to go after unfair trade practices whenever and wherever they occur. We welcome competition, but it must be on commercial terms."

Rippey, who discussed the state of the steel industry and pressed for enhanced infrastructure investment, said, "The Highway Trust Fund will be depleted by this summer, and the surface transportation program itself expires at the end of September. 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."

Rehwinkel, who is also chairman of the board of AISI, said, "The Keystone XL permit application has been in limbo for over 2,000 days. The economic benefits of the Keystone project go well beyond the pipeline itself. There will be hundreds of miles of additional pipeline needed to construct feeder lines, and substantial amounts of additional processing equipment will be needed, too. This is one step we can take right now to get our steelworkers and other manufacturing employees working."

Schmitt concluded, "Since 1990, the steel industry has reduced energy intensity by 28 percent and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent during that same period. We need to ensure that the next steps we take in this transition are not speculative but are well-understood, developed solutions that don't risk destroying domestic manufacturing. Congress should consider a delay in additional EPA rules on GHG for existing power plants and manufacturing until we are able to assess the impact of these rules that are in the implementation stage."

Full copies of the CEO testimonies and video of the hearing can be found at www.steel.org.