U.S. Senators Introduce Bill to Help American Soda Ash Producers Compete (U.S. Senate Press Release, March 7, 2017)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced bipartisan legislation to maintain competitive royalty rates on America’s natural soda ash, which is critical in manufacturing industrial products like glass. The Soda Ash Competitiveness Act (S. 546) will set the royalty rate on sodium compounds (and related products) produced from federal land at 2 percent for five years.
Under current law, the royalty rate on sodium compounds produced from federal land is 6 percent. A lower rate of 4 percent, which Congress put in place in 2013, expired in October of 2015. As a result, the cost of producing domestic soda ash has increased in the last two years, putting American exporters at an unfair disadvantage in the global market.
“American soda ash production supports thousands of jobs across the country in a variety of sectors, including mineral production, shipping, and manufacturing. For too long, American producers have had to battle unfair foreign trade practices of China and other countries,” Barrasso said. “The last thing Washington should do is raise costs here at home. Our bipartisan bill will give American soda ash producers the certainty they need to stay competitive in the global market and keep these jobs here in the United States.”
“For years, China has been gaming the system with government subsidized, synthetic soda ash exports at the expense of American jobs, businesses and the environment,” Wyden said. “Royalty relief will boost the competitiveness of the American soda ash industry, supporting hundreds of good-paying jobs in Oregon and thousands more across the country. It’s past time to level the playing field so domestic soda ash producers can compete fairly in the global market.”
In addition to Barrasso and Wyden, Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Bob Casey (D-PA) and John Cornyn (R-TX) are original co-sponsors of the Soda Ash Competitiveness Act.
Natural soda ash, also known as sodium carbonate, is a raw material used to manufacture glass, detergents, and other industrial goods. Natural soda ash is produced from trona, a mineral found in high concentrations on federal land, primarily in California and Wyoming.
The United States exports almost 60 percent of its natural soda ash. In 2014, the U.S. exported about $1.3 billion of soda ash, making it America’s second-largest inorganic chemical export.
For years, China has sought to capture the global market share from U.S. soda ash producers through unfair trade practices. China has given its own synthetic soda ash producers a 9 percent rebate on China’s value-added tax (VAT).
When compared to Chinese synthetic soda ash, U.S. natural soda ash has significantly lower emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen, particulate matter, and ground-level ozone.
The House companion to the Barrasso-Wyden bill was introduced March 7 by Rep. Paul Cook (CA-08).