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1,400 good-paying, union jobs at stake in Western PA and OH

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and United States Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai to express concerns about the threat to domestic production of grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES). GOES is a necessary component of our electrical grid, which is part of our critical infrastructure and key to our national security. Cleveland-Cliffs is North America’s only producer of GOES. The company employs 1,400 workers in good-paying, union jobs between its plants in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

“For years, Senators Brown, Portman and I have fought to protect Cleveland-Cliffs, America’s last electrical steel manufacturer, from trade cheating. When countries cheat on trade, Pennsylvanians lose their jobs. When trade cheating affects critical infrastructure, like our electrical grid, it also becomes a matter of urgent national security,” said Senator Casey. “Just as I pushed the previous Administration to act on the Section 232 report, I will continue pushing the Biden Administration to prevent countries like China and Russia from circumventing American trade laws and to ensure we are not reliant on foreign adversaries to supply our electrical grid.”

Senator Casey has consistently advocated for Cleveland-Cliffs and workers around the region. Below is a timeline of his work on the issue:

February 13, 2018 : Senator Casey raised concerns and asked for action on AK Steel (now part of Cleveland-Cliffs) and electrical steel directly to the President at the White House, in advance of the 232 announcement. At that meeting multiple Senators raised concerns about electrical steel.

March 7, 2018 : Before the 232 was finalized, Senator Casey sent a letter to the President with Senators Portman and Brown raising concerns about a loophole in the 232 for electrical steel. The Senators urged the Administration to take additional action to cover electrical steel cores and laminations in the 232.

June 20, 2018:  Senator Casey asked Secretary Ross to take action on downstream electrical steel products at a Finance Committee Hearing. At that hearing, Secretary Ross assured Senator Casey that downstream electrical steel products (such as cores and laminations) would be included “very shortly” in the 232. “I  believe  there  is  no  doubt  that  they  [downstream electrical steel products] will  be  included.”

October 31, 2019:  Senator Casey sent a letter with Senators Portman and Brown to USTR Lighthizer asking USTR initiate a surge investigation on imports of electrical steel cores and laminates from Mexico and Canada.

April 25, 2020 : Senator Casey spoke with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to push the Administration to take action on electrical steel cores and laminates.

May 1, 2020:  Senators Casey and Brown spoke with Commerce Secretary Ross on the same topic.

August 4, 2021: Senators Casey and Brown, along with Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), introduced an amendment to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which would have protected American steel workers by strengthening trade protections against China and Russia.

February 9, 2022: Senators Casey, Brown and Portman sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Raimondo and USTR Tai which requested that Commerce start by working with partners Canada and Mexico to either reduce their exports of down-stream GOES products to the United States, or utilize more U.S. GOES in the manufacturing of products containing electrical steel.

You can find the full text of the letter here and below.

Dear Secretary Raimondo and Ambassador Tai:

We write to express our concerns about the threat posed to domestic production of grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES). Since the United States has only one remaining producer of GOES, we urge you to revisit the findings of the Department of Commerce’s report from October 15, 2020, on “The Effect of Imports of Transformers and Transformer Components on the National Security” and take appropriate action before there is further damage to our domestic production.

As Senators representing the communities where the last American GOES is made, we have raised, for years, the threat posed by the complete loss of manufacturing fundamental to the integrity of our electrical grid and transformer supply chain. Therefore, we were pleased when the report was released to the public and revealed that, pursuant to an investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 into the national security threat posed by imports of cores, core parts, and laminations, the Department of Commerce found that these GOES products were “being imported into the United States in such quantities and under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security.”

Unfortunately, no action has been taken in response to these findings by the Department of Commerce. Specifically, the Section 232 report found that in 2019 over 95 percent of imported down-stream GOES products came from Canada and Mexico, yet neither country has actual GOES production.  In other words, our two biggest trading partners are importing GOES from abroad rather than the United States. As such, the Department of Commerce offered seven recommendations to remediate the national security threat posed by these imports. Of note is the first option, which suggested that the United States negotiate with Canada and Mexico to either reduce their exports of down-stream GOES products to the United States, or utilize more U.S. GOES in the production of those products. We believe this option is a constructive starting point to address the ongoing national security threat, and ask that you engage with your counterparts in Canada and Mexico as a first step.

With 1,400 union jobs in GOES manufacturing and our national security at stake, we believe it is vital to the national interest that the United States take steps to retain domestic GOES production for the long-term. We appreciate your support for American manufacturing and its relationship to our national security interests, and thank you for your consideration of our request.