The future of steel is the future of jobs in Indiana, especially the northwest corner, which is one of the largest steel-producing areas in the United States. Rep. Frank Mrvan (D), who represents that area in DC, says the industry’s health will depend upon how much steel is called for. Much of that is for projects called for in the infrastructure law.
“So, we do have an infrastructure bill, a bi-partisan infrastructure bill where Washington needs to get those dollars into the communities so that you can start producing steel in order to fulfill those orders,” said Mrvan, who chaired a Wednesday meeting of the Steel Caucus.
Testifying in that meeting was Thomas Conway, president of the United Steel Workers, whose career has been in northwest Indiana.
“Although our country’s and the world’s economy are being stressed in really significant ways, the fundamentals of the domestic steel industry are strong because of the cooperation of government, industry and labor,” he opened.
Conway then explained how he believes the infrastructure law will affect the future of the industry.
“The passage of the bi-partisan infrastructure law will add 40 to 50 million tons of steel demand over the course of the next five years,” said Conway. He pointed out that government rules now require all federally-financed infrastructure projects use American-made steel.
Conway also pointed out that clean energy requirements are also dictating more demand for steel, with an example from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
“Just one account at HUD spends over $400 million annually on clean water and drinking water and materials such as pipe and sewer pipe,” he said.
He said clean technology manufacturing is also creating demand for steel products, with demand for steel in the building of windmills and charging stations.
But, the steel industry faces competition from Asia, which Conway said would also mean carbon emissions would increase. He said the steel industry in the U.S. is relatively clean compared to their operations. He also said some countries are dumping steel into the market and devaluing the product.
“The steel and aluminum 232s and 301 tariffs on China, when combined with effective dumping and countervailing duty laws, have proven effective at keeping global excess steel capacity at bay,” he said. Conway warned that Congress must keep up with trade laws so that other countries do not find ways to get around the tariffs, as some have.
Conway and Mrvan both said they are committed to updates of the country’s trade laws.
Mrvan is also pushing for the passage of the Competes Act to promote semi-conductor and chip production to support the auto industry, which in turn means more demand for steel.
Many Republicans oppose the America Competes Act because it spends $325 billion, much of which they believe is ging to “Green New Deal”-style projects. They also believe the government subsidizing semi-conductor production to the tune of $52 billion, is unnecessary with production already ramping up.