County chairman talks steel in D.C. visits
Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler is in Washington, D.C., this week discussing illegal dumping of foreign steel on the U.S. market.
Prenzler met with U.S. Congressman Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, and John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, as well as officials from the U.S. Department of Commerce, American Iron and Steel Institute and U.S. Steel.
Prenzler said he went to Washington to meet with the decision makers because the issue directly affects the lives thousands of American families, including hundreds in Madison County.
“Steel is being dumped in this country,” Prenzler said. “The biggest issue is predatory pricing and the unfair trade practices hits Madison County hard.”
Employees at U.S. Steel Granite City Works were laid-off more than two years ago as a result for things beyond their control. At one time the Granite City plant employed between 2,000 and 2,500 men and women. Currently, there are around 700 people working at the plant.
“The idling of the Granite City plant can be attributed to unfair trade practices, inferior imported steel and fluctuating oil prices,” Prenzler said.
U.S. Steel is one of the world’s largest steel manufacturing companies. The company is an important player in the global oil country tubular goods market.
“The company produces specially designed and manufactured OCTG goods to meet requirements in the challenging oil and gas environments,” Prenzler said.
The Department of Commerce reported earlier this year in its Section 232 steel report to President Donald Trump that the United States was the world’s largest importer of steel and its imports were nearly four times its exports. The document became public last week.
“Excessive steel imports have adversely impacted the steel industry,” the report states.
Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 grants the president authority to limit or restrict imports that are determined to have an impact on national security.
“Do we really want out country’s military using products made with inferior steel?” Prenzler asked. “Most of the steel that is being dumped is coming from South Korea.”
Prenzler said Bost, who serves as co-chair of the Congressional Steel Caucus, is pushing for the president to take action on the imported steel to include tariffs and quotas.
“Workers in the United States produce the world’s highest quality steel,” Prenzler said. “All they are asking for is the opportunity to do their job.”
PHOTO: Prenzler, left, and Bost.