Bill would Create Credit for Fuel Produced at U.S. Steel Plants

A trio of Appalachian lawmakers want to "level the playing field" for American steel as imports threaten 150,000 mostly Appalachian jobs.

"The Steel Industry Preservation Act" was introduced yesterday as the United States and other nations turn up the pressure on China to end its steel subsidies. Chinese smelters continue to flood the market with cheap steel despite collapsing prices.

Struggling to compete, American steel manufacturers have slashed thousands of jobs in states like Pennsylvania, home to more than half of the nation's 150,000 steel workers. About 80,000 "steelers" are from the home state of Rep. Michael Doyle (D-Pa.), one of the bill's sponsors.

"American steelmakers can beat anybody in a fair fight, but right now the deck's stacked against them," he said in a statement. "The Steel Industry Preservation Act would help level the playing field."

The versions introduced in both the House and Senate revolve around a $2 tax credit for an amount of steel industry fuel equivalent to a barrel of oil produced at a steel fuel plant. So long as the plant is in operation by 2019, the credit lasts for 10 years.

Fellow sponsor Rep. Michael Kelly (R-Pa.) said: "This bipartisan and bicameral legislation will spur major economic growth and job creation throughout our country, especially where it's needed most, and help this indispensable industry make America even stronger."

According to proponents, steelmakers not only would get a cheaper fuel but would benefit the environment. Under the proposal, steel industry fuel, a combination of coal waste sludge and more coal, would take the place of bunker fuel, the waste product of oil refining that produces a high concentration of greenhouse gas emissions.

With steel employing 14,000 people in West Virginia, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the Senate sponsor, said the legislation is a helping hand for an industry "vital" to the American economy and national security.

"This legislation aims to make the domestic steel industry more competitive so that jobs and businesses can grow, workers can benefit, and our military can access critical steel resources," she said in a statement.

By:  Dylan Brown
Source: E&E News