Lummis Bill Puts Wyoming Soda Ash on Level Playing Field
Congressman Lummis introduces Bipartisan Soda Ash Legislation to protect and grow jobs in Southwest Wyoming
Mar 5 -
Tuesday U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo) introduced H.R 957, The American Soda Ash Competitiveness Act. The bill, a version of which was originally introduced in March 2011, reinstates the 2% federal royalty rate paid by Wyoming’s natural soda ash producers that was raised in October of 2011 to 6%.
Wyoming produces a natural soda ash product used in everyday household items like auto-glass, detergents, and paper products. In addition to meeting U.S. demand, Wyoming’s soda ash is sold internationally. However, Wyoming’s competitiveness is challenged by foreign producers whose governments utilize unfair trade practices to bolster sales of their synthetic product.
Setting the royalty rate at 2% was a success in 2006. Employment within the industry rose, along with production and exports. While China continues its trade distorting practices, the U.S. government instead increased costs on our Wyoming producers by as much as $25 million dollars annually. The inequality in treatment threatens to derail the continued growth of Wyoming’s soda ash industry, and cut short a Wyoming and U.S. manufacturing success story. The United Steelworkers Union in Wyoming and the Longshoremen at the Port of Portland have lent their support to the bill which passed the House Resources Committee on a bipartisan basis this past congress.
“This is a logical decision,” Rep. Lummis said. “There is more than enough evidence to show the benefits in reducing the royalty rate, and a bipartisan majority of the House Resources Committee agreed when this issue was discussed late last year. I’m looking forward to educating my colleagues about this issue and garnering more support in this Congress.”
Sweetwater County soda ash producers employ nearly 3,000 workers in Wyoming alone, along with hundreds of longshoremen at the ports of Portland, Oregon and Port Arthur, Texas. Soda Ash production accounts for nearly one billion dollars to the balance of trade for the U.S. Setting a fair royalty rate is critical to maintaining the American soda ash industry’s competitive edge in the global market.