Energy companies warn about effect of steel tariff on US industry

Energy companies warn about effect of steel tariff on US industry
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America's oil and gas industry is raising concerns over President Trump's announcement Thursday that the U.S. will place tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, warning such a move will create unnecessary burdens on industries that utilize pipelines.

The American Petroleum Institute (API), a national trade association that represents refineries as well as pipeline producers, called the tariffs "inconsistent with the Administration’s efforts to bolster the U.S. economy."

"Today’s announcement by the Department of Commerce to recommend sweeping tariffs around all steel and aluminum imports, in the guise of national security concerns, doesn’t make sense for the U.S. economy,” said API President Jack Gerard.

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“These tariffs would undoubtedly raise costs for U.S. businesses that rely heavily on steel and aluminum for the majority of their products – and ultimately consumers.”

Trump, in a move that defies GOP lawmakers, announced Thursday that he would impose steep tariffs as early as next week. Under the plan, first recommended by the Commerce Department, the U.S. would impose a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum.

The U.S. oil industry relies on steel for drilling as well as for facility production at refineries, petrochemical plants and pipelines.

The Center for Liquefied Natural Gas (CLNG), a coalition of companies involved in the natural gas industry, also warned of potential unforeseen effects of the tariffs on the U.S. oil and gas industry.

"We are concerned that the Administration's plan to impose tariffs on steel could have the unintended effect of endangering much-needed U.S. [liquefied natural gas] LNG export projects. These projects benefit the economy, create jobs, improve our trade deficit and provide global environmental benefits," said Charlie Riedl, executive director of CLNG.

"The Administration had taken meaningful steps to improve the current permit review process for natural gas infrastructure and it would be unfortunate if their steel tariffs created new and different barriers to projects.”

During his White House bid, Trump repeatedly accused China of dumping cheap metals on the U.S market. His announcement Thursday about new tariffs came on the same day that senior administration officials were to meet with China’s top economic adviser, Liu He. 

"We'll be signing it next week. And you'll have protection for a long time in a while,” Trump said of the tariffs Thursday, casting the effort as a way to protect U.S. producers during a meeting with 15 steel and aluminum industry executives. 

"You'll have to regrow your industries, that's all I'm asking,” he said.