Minnesota leaders discussed what immediate steps can be taken to stop mining and steel industry job losses stemming from declining iron ore prices and unfair dumping of foreign steel

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith, and U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan met today with top administration officials at the White House in an effort to determine what immediate steps can be taken to stop mining and steel industry job losses stemming from declining iron ore prices and unfair dumping of foreign steel. 

The meeting with Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, and Jeff Zients, Director of the National Economic Council, follows recent announcements of layoffs at the Keewatin Taconite and Magnetation operations on Minnesota’s Iron Range.

Administration officials shared the Minnesota leaders’ concerns about illegal dumping and their commitment to protecting the U.S. steel industry and its workers. Together, they committed to working on three important steps in support of steel industry jobs: improving the standards used to determine if enforcement action is necessary, strengthening enforcement so that determinations of unfair dumping can be made as quickly as possible, and aggressively pursuing full federal benefits for workers and their families.

“Minnesota’s steelworkers can compete with anybody in the world when it comes to providing quality steel—but they need a level playing field,” Klobuchar said.“When foreign producers dump cheap steel in our country, it undercuts our domestic industry and puts Minnesota steelworker jobs at risk. Today’s meeting focused on the need to stand up for the workers who help drive our economy forward by making it easier to crack down on illegal trade practices, and we will continue working to keep the Range strong.”

“Today, we pressed the White House and top U.S. trade and economic officials to understand what families and workers in Keewatin are going through, and to not only step up and help reverse the job losses that are happening in Minnesota, but to also let overseas competitors know that they can no longer unfairly dump their steel,” Franken said. “In addition, I just helped introduce a bill that would improve the process for bringing trade cases against unfair imports, and I will explore all possible legislative avenues for strengthening our efforts against those dumped imports. Our steel industry needs a level-playing field now.”

“Minnesota produces 70 percent of the iron ore consumed in the United States at some of the best prices. We can compete with anyone in the world if we have fair play,” said Smith.‎ “Today’s meeting focused on the urgent need to strengthen standards and enforcement to stop illegal dumping as quickly as possible.”

“We thank the Administration for their concern and willingness to explore tougher enforcement against illegal trade,” Nolan said. “The heart of the problem is that enforcement takes too long and there are no tariffs on steel imports. By the time the lengthy and costly process of determining harm from illegal trade is complete, the damage has already been done. As a result, thousands of good paying mining jobs across the nation – including more than 450 on Minnesota’s Iron Range – are in jeopardy due to millions of tons of low-grade, foreign government-subsidized steel from Asia being dumped into the U.S. marketplace. Our message to the Administration is that now is the time to act before our domestic steel industry is lost entirely in a race to the bottom that’s jeopardizing jobs, our economy and our national security.”