TESTIMONY OF REPRESENTATIVE MIKE DOYLE BEFORE THE INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION SECTION 201 RELIEF FOR U.S. STEEL INDUSTRY
Madame Chairman and members of the Commission, thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today regarding the vital need for maintaining a vibrant, and dependable domestic steel production capacity for our nation’s defense. I believe strongly that the President's Section 201 relief is helping the domestic industry return to a state of profitability and viability--and this belief has been echoed in Capital of Pennsylvania, where the members of the Pennsylvania House unanimously passed Resolution #348 voicing the support of the people of Pennsylvania for the continuance of this relief for the full three year term.
The importance of a strong American steel industry extends beyond the hundreds of thousands of jobs it provides or the superior product it produces--American steel plays a critical role in our nation's defense and homeland security. Vital to our defense capabilities, steel is used in countless applications ranging from major weapons systems, to the small, yet vital components within them. For example, this spring President Bush flew a Naval jet -- the very type of jet whose flight surfaces are controlled by steel wire rope -- and landed on one of our great nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, constructed largely of steel. Each of the ten aircraft carriers constructed in recent years needed 50,000 tons of steel plates to make, and contained steel parts ranging from the sophisticated alloys of its nuclear propulsion systems, its electrical generation systems, high frequency radio equipment, pipes, aircraft hoist systems, aircraft launch rails, and even the cable that arrested the president’s plane as it landed. These are exactly the essential components that must be made with steel from America’s plants.
Of course, an aircraft carrier is only one example of many defense systems that rely on steel for their effectiveness. In the recent war in Iraq, the Army once again fielded the M1-A2 tank. The M1 Abrams tank is the best in the world, and each one contains 22 tons of high-quality steel plate to protect its crew. Altogether, 187,000 tons of steel plate has been used in recent years to construct 8,500 tanks and a further 30,000 tons went in recent years to build light armored vehicles.
Notably, many of the steels that are used in defense applications were specially developed through the joint cooperation of the American steel industry with the Department of Defense. Such specialized research and development is not something we can farm out to foreign steel producers. Not only would the technology become unsecure, but America runs a potentially grave risk if supplies of this vital resource become controlled by foreign sources. Recent disagreements in international relations demonstrate why it is prudent for the United States to maintain domestic supplies that will not under any circumstances be subject to external pressures.
It is also prudent to consider the need to maintain an industry capable not only of supplying current needs without disruption, but also one capable of rising to the increased needs of an emergency. Although current demands for steel for military uses are very low by historical standards, it has been much higher when our forces have been committed in past extended conflicts. For example, at the height of the Vietnam War from 1965-69, American steel manufacturers supplied on average 2.4 million tons of steel products annually for direct military uses. In a volatile world, we can not be sure that this level of supply will not be needed in the future, and that it might not be needed so rapidly that only domestic producers can respond in a timely enough manner to expanded military demand.
In addition to the traditional demands of defense applications, dependable supplies of steel plays a vital part on the homeland security front. Much of our critical infrastructure relies on steel for structural integrity, from skyscrapers, to bridges to electrical power plants and dams. Most visibly, each of the nation’s suspension bridges require nearly 100,000 tons of structural and reinforcing steel to make, and are critical to public mobility and safety, as vital arteries of the nation’s commerce. Should any one of these infrastructures fall victim of some future terrorist attack, it would need to be rapidly rebuilt to minimize the economic effects. That rebuilding task could be hampered by unreliable supplies caused by over-reliance on imported steel.
In short, a strong and vibrant domestic steel production capacity is central to our defense. Prudence dictates that we safeguard this resource, and continuance of the President's Section 201 relief for the full three year term is a vital component to ensuring the strong future of American steel. I urge the Commission to consider this important matter in your deliberations.