A coalition of oil and gas, and pipeline groups urged President Trump on Wednesday morning to back off his plan to impose tariffs on steel imports.
If Trump doesn’t change course, the coalition said, the president should allow exemptions for when industry needs steel products from overseas for energy production, processing, refining, transportation, and distribution.
“While we discourage you from imposing steel tariffs, we urge you at least to allow exemptions when steel products needed for energy production, processing, refining, transportation, and distribution are not sufficiently available in domestic markets,” the groups said in a letter to Trump.
Those signing the letter include the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, Association of Oil Pipe Lines, GPA Midstream Association, Texas Pipeline Association, Natural Gas Supply Association, Center for LNG, Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance, and American Exploration & Production Council.
The groups said the type of steel used in pipelines is a niche market, so most domestic steel producers have left the pipeline market because of its high cost.
“In fact, for certain pipeline steel products, there is zero domestic availability today,” they write.
They said Trump’s plan to slap a 25 percent tariff on steel imports could drive up the cost for oil and natural pipelines. Pipeline developers could then pass on higher prices to the oil and gas producers who use their lines.
The solar industry is also advising Trump to not tax imported steel and aluminum, after the president already earlier this year imposed tariffs on solar panels coming from overseas.
“As President Trump prepares to issue an official decision on tariffs for steel and aluminum products, we want to remind him that the net loss of jobs and the cancellation of projects as a result of his solar tariffs are real and causing damage to America’s energy economy,” Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said Wednesday morning.
In January, Trump imposed a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels as part of his trade agenda to target cheap products made by China and other Asian countries.
The broader U.S. solar industry, other than panel manufacturers, opposed the tariffs, arguing the penalties could harm the industry's recent progress by increasing costs and forcing them to raise prices for consumers.
Hopper said Wednesday the solar tariffs alone could cost the industry 23,000 in lost jobs, since most of America’s solar industry works in other parts of the supply chain, such as installing panels.
Against that backdrop, Hopper says steel and aluminum tariffs could add costs to large, utility-scale solar projects.
“The economy-damaging effects of tariffs are both regrettable and avoidable,” Hopper said. “If the president fails to reverse harmful tariffs, we urge Congress to take action to correct what will be a very bad deal for American workers.”