The IOA brought more than 45 Iron Range leaders together on Oct. 19 to continue working toward a science-based water quality standard that safeguards Minnesota’s wild rice and protects the future of the iron mining industry. Local business leaders and representatives from municipalities received a comprehensive briefing on the issue, including information about the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) public comment period expected to begin in early 2017.
Speakers Kurt Anderson of Minnesota Power, Rob Beranek of Cliffs Natural Resources, and Chrissy Bartovich of U. S. Steel provided an update about ongoing research that commenced when discussions about the wild rice issue began in 2011. They also presented information about the potential costs to municipalities and industry on the Iron Range of complying with a sulfate water quality discharge standard. According to the speakers, potential costs to individual Iron Range cities could soar to millions of dollars. As a result, individual households could pay hundreds of dollars per year in new wastewater treatment fees.
In attendance were federal and state Iron Range lawmakers, including Rep. Rick Nolan, Sen. David Tomassoni, and Rep. Rob Ecklund, who all applauded attendees for coming together to learn more about the issue and work toward a science-based solution.
Click here to read the Mesabi Daily News’ coverage of the event.
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on September 12 voted to establish new tariffs on hot-rolled steel imports from Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Turkey – helping to level the playing field for American workers in the ongoing fight against illegal foreign steel dumping.
The decision follows a September 2 ITC vote to establish new tariffs on cold-rolled steel products from Brazil, India, Korea, and the United Kingdom. The new tariffs will be in effect for five years. Fact sheets for the U.S. government’s determination, antidumping (AD) and countervailing (CVD) duties can be viewed at: USDOC hot-rolled steel fact sheet, and USDOC cold-rolled steel fact sheet.
American steel companies and workers praised the ITC’s decision. U. S. Steel President and CEO Mario Longhi said the new tariffs are “yet another positive step towards establishing a level playing field,” vowing to continue efforts “to ensure fair trade and adherence to the rule of law.”
“The trade commission final rulings will back-off the river of illegal steel imports,” said United Steel Workers International President Leo W. Gerard, adding that the decision will hopefully return laid-off steelworkers. “Trade cases are only part of the solution. America’s steelworkers need immediate, forceful action on the bigger crisis of global steel overcapacity.”
Selling steel products below cost in order to gain market share and harm domestic producers, known as “predatory dumping,” has hit workers, families, and communities on Minnesota’s Iron Range hard. The Iron Ore Alliance – a joint initiative between the United Steelworkers and U. S. Steel – has been working hard to support a fairer trade system that helps American steel manufacturers and industries thrive.
On Tuesday, August 2, a taconite rock from the Minntac facility was delivered to the new Keewatin Community Center. The decorative rock was donated by U. S. Steel and is displayed prominently outside the building, located on the 200 block of 1st Street in downtown Keewatin.
The Iron Ore Alliance is pleased to share that the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) announced today that it is beginning an investigation of carbon and alloy steel products being imported from China. The investigation is based on a complaint filed by U. S. Steel Corporation and supported by thousands of local, state and federal officials, trade associations, customers and suppliers, employees, and union members.
The Iron Ore Alliance is grateful for the widespread support from Minnesota stakeholders who are urging the U.S. International Trade Commission to initiate an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930. This trade case is critical to the future viability of Minnesota’s 130-year legacy of iron mining and the jobs it supports. Letters of support have been submitted by Minnesota state and local lawmakers, business groups, and trade organizations, including:
- Governor Dayton
- Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk
- State Representatives Anzelc, Ecklund, Metsa, and Melin; and Senators Saxhaug and Tomassoni
- Representative Tom Hackbarth, chair of the mining and outdoor recreation policy committee
- 11 Iron Range mayors
- Minnesota Chamber of Commerce
- Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council
Iron Ore Alliance co-chairs John Rebrovich of the United Steelworkers and Chris Masciantonio of U. S. Steel also submitted a letter expressing their support for moving the case forward.
“Thousands of Minnesotans are currently living without any certainty about when or whether their jobs will come back as a result of illegal foreign steel dumping,” said Governor Dayton. “The International Trade Commission has the power to answer those questions while providing much-needed relief to an important American industry.”
Thank you to the elected officials, individuals, families and businesses that support a strong mining economy in Northeastern Minnesota. In the coming weeks, the International Trade Commission is expected announce its decision whether to initiate a case based on U. S. Steel’s complaint. Check back for more information and updates.
On April 26, 2016, U. S. Steel filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to initiate an investigation of the largest Chinese steel producers and their distributors under Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930. The complaint alleges three causes of action: the illegal conspiracy to fix prices, the theft of trade secrets, and the circumvention of trade duties by false labeling.
The United Steelworkers strongly support U. S. Steel’s actions and quickly issued a statement of support. United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard said, “In recent months, more than 13,500 steelworkers have received layoff notices. Facilities are being shuttered, some never again to resume production. Families are being devastated and communities are suffering as their tax bases decline.”
Elected officials across the country and at all levels of government are taking action to ensure our country’s steel industry, including Minnesota’s mining industry, regains its strength. The Iron Ore Alliance is grateful for the support of Minnesotans and our elected officials who are fighting to end illegal and unfair trade practices.
United Steelworkers and U. S. Steel will continue working to support families, individuals, businesses and communities on the Iron Range during this time of need. In the coming weeks, the International Trade Commission is expected announce its decision whether to initiate a case based on U. S. Steel’s complaint. Check back for more information and updates on this development.
The 2016 legislative session began on March 8 with a lengthy discussion about the growing economic hardship on the Iron Range as a result of illegal foreign steel dumping. Although the full Legislature has yet to pass a 26-week extension of unemployment insurance benefits, we extend our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the Governor and state legislators who are fighting for the families, businesses and communities on the Iron Range. The Iron Ore Alliance recently sent a letter of support for this legislation to all members of the Minnesota Senate and House. Click below to learn more about the proposed legislation.
According to new findings from the U.S. Department of Commerce, corrosion-resistant steel imports from China will be taxed at 256 percent due to ongoing sales at unfairly low prices. This is an important step in the right direction as we work to put an end to the illegal practices that are hurting America’s steel industry.
Steel is the backbone of our economy and is critical to economic and national security. It supports our bridges, takes our buildings to new heights, transports goods and services, and is found in everyday appliances in our homes. Minnesota is America’s largest producer of iron ore – a natural resource and key ingredient in the steelmaking process.
The Iron Ore Alliance calls on Minnesota House and Senate members to join us in the fight against illegal trade. Members can show their support by co-sponsoring a resolution calling on the U.S. Congress and President to forcefully address illegal trade practices that are severely impacting the iron mining industry, workforce, and communities in Northern Minnesota.
Nearly 50 Iron Range leaders recently gathered to receive updates on the status of Minnesota’s water quality standard to protect wild rice. As part of the East Range Community Advisory Panel’s regular meeting on January 14, presenters gave an overview of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) rulemaking timeline, as well as a summary of recent research that found that sulfate and sulfide are not toxic at levels that typically exist in Minnesota’s wild rice waters. Meeting attendees included representatives from Congressman Rick Nolan’s office, several state legislators, Saint Louis County commissioners, elected officials from eight Iron Range cities, the IRRRB, and other community leaders including USW’s John Rebrovich, co-chair of the Iron Ore Alliance.
Minnesota is the only state with a rule limiting how much sulfate can be discharged into wild rice waters. This 42-year-old standard (10 milligrams per liter) is not consistently enforced and there has been significant discussion on whether the standard is scientifically supported. The MPCA intends to move ahead with rulemaking regarding the wild rice sulfate standard to reflect the most up-to-date science and to identify wild rice waters.
Click below to review the PowerPoint presentations that were provided at the January 14 meeting.
Public comments accepted by December 18
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is considering amendments to the state’s water quality sulfate standard to protect wild rice.
Minnesota has a 42-year-old rule limiting how much sulfate can be discharged into wild rice waters. The current standard of 10 milligrams per liter (mg/L) is not consistently enforced, and there has been significant discussion on whether the standard is scientifically supported. Minnesota is the only state with a wild rice sulfate standard.
Based on recent research, the MPCA has concluded that sulfate is not directly toxic to wild rice but that elevated sulfide can be toxic to wild rice. Under certain conditions, sulfate can be converted to sulfide in the sediment where wild rice grows. To replace the current 10 mg/L sulfate standard, the MPCA proposes a standard that takes into account the sulfide-producing characteristics of a water body and its sediment to calculate a “Protective Sulfate Concentration” to protect wild rice.
A key to the new standard is defining the toxicity of sulfide to wild rice. The MPCA funded research by University of Minnesota-Duluth Biologist Dr. John Pastor to address that issue. A peer review panel convened by the MPCA made seven specific recommendations to improve the accuracy of the results.
Responding to the peer review panel recommendations, a 2015 study was conducted by Fort Environmental Laboratories, a nationally renowned environmental toxicology laboratory. The study followed all seven peer review panel recommendations and is being submitted to a peer reviewed journal for publication.
The study concluded that sulfide is significantly less toxic to wild rice than was indicated by Dr. Pastor’s tests, and not toxic at levels that typically exist in Minnesota wild rice waters. The study also confirmed that the presence of iron in the sediment where wild rice grows significantly reduces the toxicity of sulfide.
This new scientific evidence confirms that Minnesota’s current wild rice sulfate standard of 10 mg/L is wrong. The ramifications of enforcing an incorrect water quality standard are enormous and would negatively impact communities throughout our state.
The MPCA is accepting public comments on the wild rice sulfate standard until December 18. Share your thoughts with the MPCA through our action center.