January 21, 2018

Washington Wire: Decision on Steel, Aluminum Import Tariffs, Quotas Delayed

07/03/2017

Decision on Steel, Aluminum Import Tariffs, Quotas Delayed  

 
Sources indicate White House advisors remain divided on a final recommendation but have narrowed to several options ranging from across the board tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to exempting the European Union, Canada and others. Officials are circulating a draft of the Section 232 report throughout government, and while Commerce Secretary Ross had indicated the Department would release the report along with its recommendations by the end of June, those are also likely delayed several more weeks. The White House may wait to announce the final decision until after the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7-8. After Commerce issues its report, the president has 90 days to act under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. The statute provides the president flexibility to impose trade restrictions, such as tariffs, tariff-rate quotas, import fees and voluntary restraint agreements.  
 
One Voice filed official comments to the Department of Commerce requesting the administration not impose unilateral import tariffs or quotas on steel or aluminum products, without considering the impact of their actions on downstream industrial users. Metalworking manufacturers around the country struggle to secure not only tool and die steel on a timely basis at global prices but also specialty metals from stainless steel to heavy gauge metals.

 

 

 
House Approves Career and Technical Education/Perkins Bill
 
On June 22, the House passed the One Voice-endorsed Perkins reauthorization bill, H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act by voice vote under suspension of the rules. The legislation now moves to the Senate, where discussions on last year’s version of the bill stalled.  
 
The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, H.R. 2353, not only reauthorizes the Perkins Act but modernizes it, providing students and employers with the flexibility needed to adapt educational and training programs to their industry by promoting national industry-recognized credentials and allowing communities to focus resources on in-demand jobs in their local geographic area.  
 
Minor changes to this year’s version include: additional clarifications concerning the involvement of both secondary and postsecondary educators, the use of evidence-based practices, and the offering of dual and concurrent enrollment and articulation agreements. Reauthorization of the Act is a solid start towards aligning federal workforce training programs with employers’ needs. This support for CTE comes despite the President’s request for a 15% cut to Perkins funding. One Voice will continue to push for passage in the Senate.

 

 

 
OSHA Considering Six-Month Delay of Incident Reporting Rule
 
The Department of Labor announced it is seeking formal comments by July 13 about whether they should delay the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Electronic Recordkeeping rule taking effect July 1st, formally known as "Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses." Proposed on May 11, 2016, the rule requires small businesses with 20-249 employees to electronically submit their Form 300A, which OSHA will then put on the internet for public viewing. Larger manufacturing companies with over 250 employees will submit Forms 300, 300A, and 301 quarterly, which OSHA will also post online. One Voice repeatedly raised concern with the Administration that the information, without proper explanation to the general public, will mislead them to believe that manufacturing facilities are unsafe. One Voice is asking the administration to reconsider this misguided rule that will not improve worker safety but will hurt manufacturers’ ability to recruit employees.

 

 

 
EPA Unveils Final TSCA Rules
 
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its framework rules under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) on June 22. The new rules outline EPA’s process and criteria designating high priority chemicals for risk evaluation and low priority chemicals for which risk evaluation is not necessary. In addition, the rule clarifies EPA’s authority to determine what uses of a chemical are appropriate for risk evaluation. EPA also provided scoping documents for the first ten chemicals under risk evaluation. The first ten chemicals which EPA considers high priority include:  
 
  • Asbestos
  • 1-Bromopropane
  • Carbon Tetrachloride
  • 1, 4 Dioxane
  • Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster (HBCD)
  • Methylene Chloride
  • N-Methylpyrrolidone
  • Perchloroethylene
  • Pigment Violet 29
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE)  
 
For each of these chemicals, a scoping document contains the hazards, exposures, conditions of use, and the potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations EPA anticipates to study in the risk evaluation. If a One Voice member company has manufactured, processed, distributed in commerce, used, or disposed of any of these high priority chemicals over the past 10 years, it may need to submit a report to EPA within 180 days of the final rule’s publication in the Federal Register. Several members have indicated TCE use, for those interested in more information on EPA’s efforts to further regulator TCE as a vapor degreaser and in other formats, please contact info@metalworkingadvocate.org.

 

 

 
EPA, U.S. Army Move to Rescind Waters of U.S. Rule
 
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Army, and Army Corps of Engineers are proposing a rule to rescind the Clean Water Rule and re-codify the regulatory text that existed before 2015 defining "waters of the United States" (WOTUS). Currently under WOTUS, EPA may consider industrial ditches as “tributaries,” leading to costly maintenance activities, and expensive and time-consuming dredge and fill permits. The change also affects storm water retention ponds, fire ponds, and on-site impoundments, leading to point source discharge and other permit requirements. The rule opens up thousands of manufacturers, farmers, and other businesses to citizen group lawsuits and lengthy environmental reviews – the median cost for some of these permits is $155,000. Viewing the rule as an undue burden on small business and farmers, President Trump signed an Executive Order instructing EPA to abandon and replace the rule. EPA, along with the Department of Army and Army Corps of Engineers, has also begun discussions and outreach on the second step rulemaking involving a re-evaluation and revision of the definition of WOTUS in accordance with the Executive Order.