#SteelBriefs Profile - Representative Rick Nolan (D) MN-8

The steel industry is a dynamic part of the U.S. economy, accounting for more than $520 billion in economic output and nearly two million jobs in 2017 when considering the direct, indirect (supplier) and induced impacts. #SteelBriefs highlights the opinions of steel advocates in Congress on key issues critical to the steel industry by profiling members of Congress who have worked to curtail the unfair foreign trade practices that have impacted the industry, and championed other issues critical to steel like transportation, infrastructure and energy. You can follow #SteelBriefs on the American Iron and Steel Institute Twitter (@AISISteel) and Facebook channels, as well as here on steel.org.

Representative Rick Nolan was recently recognized with an AISI Steel Champion Award

(Pictured, L-R): Frank Jenko, United Steel Workers Local 2705 President; Lourenco Goncalves, Cliffs Chairman, President and CEO; Representative Rick Nolan (D) MN-8; Jonathan Holmes, Vice President and Operations Manager, ArcelorMittal Minorca Mine; and Thomas J. Gibson, President and CEO, American Iron and Steel Institute.


How does the steel industry benefit your district?

Iron ore mining is the heart and soul of northern Minnesota’s famed Iron Range, creating and supporting thousands of good paying jobs in our region for well over 100 years. 13% of our Nation’s GNP flows out of the Port of Duluth, and 40% of that cargo is iron ore that moves up the Great Lakes to supply the steel mills that drive our economy and support literally millions of jobs across the country.

Why does a successful steel industry benefit the nation?

America’s steel, iron ore mining and manufacturing industries are the foundation of our national economy and our national security – creating, supporting and sustaining millions of good paying jobs that support our communities, underpin our tax base and make life better for everyone.

Why is it important to address unfair trade, especially with regard to the steel industry? How would your constituents be affected if trade laws are not aggressively enforced?

The illegal dumping of millions of tons of low-grade, foreign government-subsidized steel into our marketplace threatens the very survival of America’s steel, iron ore mining and manufacturing industries. Thousands of good paying steel and mining industry jobs have been lost since illegal steel dumping began reaching crisis proportion in 2014. That’s why I invited White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to visit Minnesota’s Iron Range in December 2015 to see the economic devastation for himself – more than 2,000 miners alone were out of work. Communities were suffering. Scores of small businesses were closing or cutting back.

On the Range, they’re now calling the McDonough visit “the day that changed everything” because it became the launching pad for the Obama Administration’s tough crackdown on foreign steel. Economic recovery on the Range still has a long way to go, but as a result of new tariffs (taxes) of up to 265.76% on steel from China and other trade cheater nations, more than 450 miners are back at work in northern Minnesota. Another 500 were set to return in August, with more to come. And Cliffs Natural Resources has committed to a $65 million investment in new mining technology on the Range.

Meanwhile, U.S. steel mills are now operating at 75% capacity, up from 60% in 2015; iron ore prices are rising and have jumped from $40 to nearly $60 a ton; steel imports have decreased 31% for the first five months of 2016 compared to the same time period in 2015. And Canada and Mexico have agreed to join forces with the United States to bolster our tough crackdown on illegal foreign steel dumping. Together, our three nations will launch a more united and strategic campaign to enforce trade laws, share critical information and stop illegal steel shipments from crossing the borders we share.

And of course we’re continuing our fight to defeat the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement when it comes to Congress for an up or down vote. Bad trade agreements like the TPP and its predecessor, NAFTA, have already cost us millions of good paying construction and manufacturing jobs. We’re determined not to lose one more American job to a terrible trade agreement, and I’m growing more optimistic every day that Congress will send the TPP to history’s scrap heap of bad ideas – exactly where it belongs.

How is the steel industry an example of environmental stewardship?

Steel and iron ore underpin a whole new generation of green technologies. Every solar panel, wind turbine, pipeline, hybrid car and energy efficient airplane, train and building (just to name a few) contains steel. And we need to ensure that steel is made in America – with iron ore that is mined, processed or reprocessed in America. American steel is generally recognized around the world to be the strongest and best there is. That’s why I’m working so hard in Congress to strengthen “buy America” provisions to ensure that every new pipeline, and every new federal project, is built with American steel.

Why is national infrastructure investment important?

We need to rebuild America, beginning with our Nation’s infrastructure. We cannot operate and sustain our Nation, grow our economy and protect our national security with highways, roads, bridges and mass transit systems that are falling apart. The $30+ billion dollar long term bipartisan Transportation Bill (the FAST Act) Congress finally passed last year after 8 years of delays and kicking the can down the road was a landmark achievement. But we need to do more. The experts tell us we should be investing at least $1 trillion in our infrastructure – creating some 13 million new jobs. That’s what we need to do, and I’ll continue to work my heart out on the Transportation Committee to make it happen.