Climate Bill Meets Praise, Concern from Primary Metal Producers

July 6, 2009
Steel notes competitive disadvantages; Aluminum calls it important first step

The passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 by the U.S. House of Representatives has met both praise and disappointment from the primary metal producing industries. The bill has not yet been addressed by the U.S. Senate.
“We believe this bill has moved at a rushed pace that has not allowed for full debate of provisions that are critical to the steel industry, which was clearly underscored by the fact that the bill passed in the House by only seven votes,” stated the president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) Thomas Gibson. “The bill, as passed, will need important modifications as it moves through the Senate.”
Gibson noted the efforts of Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) on behalf of industrial interests, but also noted that if the bill is enacted as it stands now, “U.S. steelmakers and our workers will be at a significant competitive disadvantage in the global marketplace. Several modifications must be made to achieve the bill’s stated purpose of avoiding job loss and emission migration to overseas markets.”
In particular, Gibson said that the House version of the climate bill needs to be modified to recognize the challenges of energy-intensive industries, e.g., primary steelmakers.
“With this bill, all forms of energy – coal, natural gas, biomass and electricity – have the potential to suffer a dramatic cost increase due to fuel switching, deployment of waste gas capture/regeneration technology, carbon capture and sequestration technology, and wind, solar and other clean energy technologies. Energy intensive industries should be rebated allowances to recover consequential cost increases resulting from this legislation, and not just emissions costs,” he said.
The reaction was markedly different from the aluminum industry. Steve Larkin, president of The Aluminum Association, congratulated the House “on an important first step in protecting our environment and potentially creating thousands of new green jobs. We look forward to working with members of the Senate on this important issue to further enhance the language of this bill, particularly as it pertains to energy intensive industries like ours.”
Larkin pointed out the aluminum industry’s reduction in greenhouse gas emissions through efficient manufacturing and increased recycling efforts. “A final bill that would recognize the positive contributions to the environment, consumers, and the 142,000 employees of the aluminum industry would be a victory for all of us,” he concluded.