NEW YORK Nucor
Corp., the United Steelworkers union and other steel interests
are calling on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to
retract a rule limiting the application of Buy America
The FHWA said in a
December memo that Buy America laws, which require
government-funded transportation projects to use steel that has
been produced in the United States, dont need to be
applied to certain steel and iron products used in
transportation construction. This includes steel and iron
components necessary to encase, assemble and construct primary
construction products such as clamps, fittings, sleeves,
washers, bolts, nuts, screws, tie wire, spacers, lifting hooks
and faucets, among others.
An appeal to repeal
the waiver is awaiting scheduling in U.S. District Court for
Nucor, the USW and several iron foundries filed a petition to
review the memo in February, arguing that it was wrongfully
filed and would hurt the U.S. steel industry.
The FHWAs change
to Buy America provisions "significantly undermines the Buy
America program by exempting an entire category of steel and
iron products from coverage," Nucor said in a Sept. 6 letter to
the FHWA. "This change, or any other weakening of existing Buy
America laws, is detrimental to Nucor and its workers, as well
as to other U.S. manufacturing companies."
Manufacturers Association, the American Iron and Steel
Institute and others have also written letters to FHWA in
protest, saying U.S. businesses will be hurt if the waiver
producers, including Nucor, argued in letters to the FHWA that
the waiver would damage their businesses by allowing
contractors to buy steel products made overseas.
The waiver has been in
effect for less than a year and it is unclear how much it has
affected U.S. companies bottom lines. However, Dustin
Painter, counsel at Washington-based Kelley, Drye & Warren
LLP, which filed the petition for review, said U.S. companies
would know the effects by year-end.
"The concern is that
(FHWA) has done something that for the first time is carving
out whole segments of the iron and steel industry as not being
subject to the Buy America Act," Painter said. "Its a
significant market for these products, and frankly some of
these industries have already been harmed so much over the
years by subsidized foreign competition."
The petition was
transferred to a Washington court earlier this month.
Opposing parties said
they will continue litigating to push FHWA to retract the
waiver if the agency doesnt do so on its own.