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Infrastructure

U.S - made steel in all new infrastructure projects


The Biden administration announced on Monday that construction projects funded under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will be required to use American-made steel and iron.

A memo issued by Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda D. Young "for heads of executive departments and agencies" says that "none of the funds made available for a Federal financial assistance program for infrastructure, including each deficient program, may be obligated for a project unless all of the iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials used in the project are produced in the United States. ... This means all manufacturing processes, from the initial melting stage through the application of coatings, occurred in the United States."

The infrastructure bill was signed into law by President Joe Biden on November 15, 2021, after passing in Congress with all Democrats voting in favor of it and a majority of Republicans opposing its passage.

The American Iron and Steel Institute, an association of North American steel producers, has estimated that five million metric tons of steel will be needed for every $100 billion of direct infrastructure spending in the legislation. Based on the $550 billion allocated in the final bill, that amounts to an estimated 27.5 million metric tons of steel that would need to be manufactured in the United States.

"Passing this bill today provides a tremendous boost to our industry," Kevin Dempsey, president and CEO of the institute, said in a statement.

Infrastructure construction projects include bridge repairs across the country, as well as road construction and repair and the installation of broadband infrastructure.

Biden's direction to use steel produced in the United States could have a positive environmental impact.

Multiple studies, including one backed by the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation and ClimateWorks Foundation and another from the Climate Leadership Council, have determined that the production of steel in America is more carbon efficient than in other countries.

Both studies found that carbon output from China's production of steel notably exceeded that of American production.

American steel production companies Nucor and U.S. Steel recently announced initiatives they said were aimed at achieved "net zero carbon" goals.

In that same vein, the Biden administration has previously announced its intention to work with the European Union toward policies that limit the use of "dirty steel" from China.

"American-made steel and aluminum is produced with far fewer emissions than dirtier alternatives made in the PRC and elsewhere. To date, American steel companies and workers have received no benefit for their low-carbon production. Low-carbon steel across all production types —and the workers who make it—will be incentivized and rewarded going forward," the administration announced in an October 2021 statement. It also highlighted the value of "green steel production," which it said would ensure "a competitive U.S. steel industry for decades to come."

The United Steelworkers, the union that represents 1.2 million active and retired workers in multiple industries, praised the original passage of the infrastructure bill in November 2021, noting, "Robust investment, coupled with strong domestic procurement provisions, will help American workers, including hundreds of thousands of USW members, not only by making their communities safer but by promoting widespread job growth and economic opportunity.

"Our members stand ready to produce the essential building blocks of a modern infrastructure, as we begin making long-overdue upgrades to the nation's roads, bridges, broadband, public transit, ports, power grids, and more."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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Pete Buttiegeg discussing Biden's infrastructure plan on Fox News.

Screenshot from Media Matters (Fox News clip)

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox News is mounting a rhetorical push against President Joe Biden's infrastructure plan announced on Wednesday and is trying to declare that a number of projects mentioned in the bill aren't "infrastructure" — even when they obviously are.

According to Fox's purported "news side" personalities as well as segments from opinion hosts, only roads and bridges actually qualify for the label — which leaves out the following: The electrical grid, broadband internet, building construction, plumbing networks, and who knows what else.

On Thursday morning's edition of America's Newsroom, Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer asked Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg why only a portion of the spending money was "dedicated to roads and bridges," instead highlighting the bill's investments in "electric grid improvements, broadband, water systems, and on and on it goes."

Buttigieg then explained what was wrong with this argument: The electric grid, broadband internet, and other technologies are part of the infrastructure of a modern economy.


This line of argument, suggesting that various areas of technology don't really count as "infrastructure," began even before Biden delivered his speech. And it also becomes clear that Fox's goalposts have kept on moving.

On Wednesday's edition of Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy said that there are "still some infrastructure priorities in this package," such as money for roads and bridges, as well as to replace all the lead pipes still being used in the country, and $213 billion for environmentally sustainable housing.

But other items, shown in a list on screen, included "$174 billion to 'win' electric vehicle market" — as if the emerging market of electric vehicles doesn't require a public strategy.


But then in the very next hour on The Five, co-host Jesse Watters contrasted the problem of potholes on the highways with building "a lot of electric car charging stations for all the Tesla drivers," though the bill also includes basic money for roads. He also complained about the environmental improvements to buildings, casting it as wasteful: "If they retrofit every single building here in Manhattan, I'm going to have a headache with all the hammering. It's enough already."


Similarly, Sean Hannity remarked on Wednesday night that a large portion of the bill would be dedicated to such purportedly non-infrastructure projects as "retrofitting millions of homes and hospitals and other buildings in an environmentally conscious way and other funds would go towards building new green schools."


Hannity also brought on South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, who declared: "I was shocked by how much doesn't go into infrastructure. It goes into research and development. It goes into housing, and pipes, and different initiatives, green energy, and it really is not an honest conversation we're having about what this proposal is."


The next morning, Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt reaired the clip of Noem's comments. Keep in mind, of course, that Doocy's earlier segment had included the replacement of lead pipes and housing improvements as part of the genuine "infrastructure" components of the package. But now, the network will run that clip of Noem as a serious statement, even after it was widely reported and lampooned the night before.