Sen. Jake Garn is co-sponsoring a bill to help keep the doors of Orem's Geneva Steel plant open.
Geneva Steel, the 10th largest producer of steel in the nation, supplies 20 percent of the Western United States steel, Garn said.The legislation would extend President Ronald Reagan's 1984 Steel Voluntary Export Restraint Arrangements for five years. It is also being pushed by Sen. John Helnz, R-Pa., and Sen. John D. Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and 46 other senators.
"While I am encouraged by the progress that has been made in this important area of international trade and competition, the task is not over," Garn said in a press release. "There is still much more to be done."
Utah's senior senator said the Reagan initiative was a milestone in the effort to create a more fair, competitive climate for American steel producers, and it stimulated positive changes including lowered costs and improved productivity and quality. "But the program needs to be extended to truly level the playing field in the industry."
The bill includes restraints which limit the imports from foreign steel markets to roughly 20 million tons of steel, or 20 percent of the U.S. market. The entire domestic steel industry bordered on bankruptcy earlier this decade when imported steel made up more than 30 percent of the market, Garn said.
Th import quotas have bought time for the American steel industry to modernize, and protected the market during the international decline of the dollar. "These restraint arrangements are not an attempt to protect the steel industry from foreign competition," he said. "They are simply an effort to level the playing field for American steel."
Since 1982, three integrated steel production plants west of the Mississippi River have closed, leaving Geneva as the sole Western survivor.
"The extension of the restraints will enable Geneva to not only catch up, but to jump ahead in its commitment toward aggressive modernization," he said.